Property in the attractive downtown area of Charlotte, North Carolina is considered prime real estate. So when a previously occupied office building in the heart of the city became available, Wake Forest University (WFU) didn’t hesitate to buy. The new space was renovated into classrooms and turned into a satellite campus for the university’s MBA program.
“It was really just a remarkable location right next to the Time Warner Cable Arena where the Democratic National Convention was held,” says John Owen, director of Information Technology. Owen was tasked with building the new facility’s core A/V infrastructure, a venture that proved more difficult than originally expected.
The new facility, which would be known as The Wake Forest University Charlotte Center, was built with a parking deck on the upper level. As a result, support columns punctuate the
rooms, making it difficult to arrange desks without obstructing a student’s view. Further adding to the problem was limited space for equipment storage.
“In uptown Charlotte you can imagine real estate being very expensive so the architect obviously is trying to make these rooms [classrooms] as large as possible, which means he’s minimizing the space where I can put my A/V equipment,” says Owen. “No matter how nice a rack I purchase we want that to be a sight unseen kind of thing.”
Yet, the Charlotte campus needed to remain connected to WFU’s home base in Winston-Salem, and the method for doing this was videoconferencing. In other words a fairly robust A/V setup would be needed.
Owen also had to find a means to coordinate disparate A/V technologies like document cameras, projectors, PC resources and interactive whiteboards. He needed something that could act as the brain of the classroom while taking up as little space as possible.
WFU already uses AMX control panels in its classrooms so Owen contacted the company looking for a solution for the new facility.
“At the time AMX had some products that facilitated the backend classroom infrastructure, but you still had to do a lot of combination. They could provide you with 60 percent of the