The state-of-the-art Academic Learning Commons at Virginia Commonwealth University sets a new standard for technological advancement on the campus. A facility specifically designed to foster a culture of teaching excellence, the innovative space encourages the use of technology in the learning process. Cutting-edge AV technology is used in all parts of the commons, including touch panel multimedia controllers, interactive podiums, and a full wall visual structure that allow for simultaneous viewing of multiple applications.
The VCU Academic Learning Commons is designed in a clean, contemporary architectural style, featuring glass entry doors, glass walls, and an open staircase. Intimate student lounge areas feature user-friendly desks and chairs, strategically placed on all four floors of the 102,000-square-foot building.
The first two floors contain lecture halls and collaboration spaces in a variety of sizes, from 60-seat classrooms to 383-seat auditoriums. The third floor is the new home to the School of Social Work – ranked 11th nationally by U.S. News & World Report – equipped with observation rooms that allow students to discreetly monitor interviews or consultations. The fourth floor houses the Center for Teaching Excellence and the University College’s Writing Center.
“This facility provides students with unprecedented opportunities to collaborate with others on and off campus,” explains Gardner Campbell, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success. “The furniture is designed to allow students to turn in different directions to engage in discussions, and each room has the ability to participate in a web conferencing, real-time streaming, that allows faculty to push out content to the web.”
One of the most daunting facility challenges was the design and integration of an 8×4 video wall. To begin with, the opening for the video wall measured just 35’1” wide by 16’1” high, providing only a tight 1-inch gap on all four sides of the video wall. In addition, there were only 2 inches of space between the concrete wall and the face of the video screen.
There were mounting challenges as well. The concrete wall behind the planned video wall location was 10 inches thick, but anchoring to the concrete wasn’t feasible since it could affect the engineered weight load design. In addition, the airspace behind the video wall contained free-hanging ducting that was not anchored and could not be allowed to inhibit the video wall system.
Then there were the walls surrounding the installation. The areas above and to the sides of the video wall were to be dry-walled, while the wall beneath the video wall had to be removable for service access. Finally, there was the question of what material and finish would be the best choice for the removable panels. Options included fabric, wood, or custom maple veneer to match the rest of the room.
Whitlock, the AV integrator for the facility, turned to Premier Mounts for a video wall mount design, integration, and accessibility solution. Premier Mounts began by confirming the overall dimensions for the video wall system design. They then selected the Premier Mounts LMV video wall flat-panel mounting solution, designed to take the guesswork and extra time out of daunting, large scale permanent installations.
The key to the LMV design is modularity, simple installation, and easy access to the displays. Multi-display stacking allows a customized video wall mounting system while model-specific spacers streamline multi-display alignment. Not all walls are perfectly flat, and the LMV’s design takes that into consideration. The top-adjustable mounting brackets on the LMV include three labeled points on each arm to fine-tune adjust the x, y, and z planes. Cable and power management are also simplified thanks to the open design. And when individual displays need to be serviced, the press and release scissor base frames ensure easy access within a large matrix.
From a structural perspective, the video wall could not be mounted to the rear concrete wall. So Premier Mounts dedicated solutions team, PDS, engineered and designed a subframe with vertical poles and horizontal arms. The LMVs would then anchor to steel plates above the frame. This allowed the load to be carried evenly and positioned the faces of the screens so they were all flush. This solved the wall challenge and provided flexibility for a level and consistent installation.
Finally, PDS incorporated two removable panel frames with unique wall coverings for easy service access. In-house tests of all components confirmed the design met all requirements of UL standards.
The innovative video wall is a centerpiece of the state-of-the-art AV featured at VCU’s Academic Learning Commons. It is beautiful, functional, and designed for easy maintenance and accessibility. To learn more about creating a large-format visual structure, contact the experts at Premier Dedicated Solutions today!
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