The craving for face time in business is natural and everyone wants to offer it better. In the business world, that translates into a quest for the best meeting possible, allowing ideas to flow freely and gel into well-organized plans of action. A company, Convene has made a multimillion-dollar investment in large-scale corporate gatherings. They have transformed a space in NY into an advanced meeting place that’s available for one- or multi-day bookings. The facility provides a 212-seat auditorium and a dozen more breakout rooms for brainstorming, employee orientations or any other large-scale meet up that today’s leaner companies aren’t likely to have the free real estate to host themselves. Not surprisingly, the Audio/Visual component of the space is paramount. “Companies are becoming more reliant on AV capability to put their meetings together,” observed Ryan Simonetti, who co-founded Convene (originally Sentry Centers) in 2009 together with Chris Kelly. “Today’s meetings are highly integrated, not only physically but technologically, bridging to another audience in another location, or one online. To make meetings more collaborative and interactive, we’re seeing an increased connection between AV technology and the meeting itself.” The AV designer and integrator on the project helped Convene create a space where ease-of-use, along with the ability to capture and redistribute content generated at Old Slip, were primary objectives. A representative of the integrator says, “The whole notion was to make rooms as simple as possible for the users so they could walk in, walk up to the touch panel controls, and operate it easily with no technical help.” Interesting guidelines for the team that was programming Old Slip’s Crestron control system were laid down. “We try our best not to think like AV people!” he explained. “We want to simplify the experience, and assume that the person walking in there has no idea of how a control system works. Fortunately, with the advent of iPhones, iPads, and tablets, people are much less afraid of touch panel control surfaces than they were before.
Convene is huge on getting client feedback—they have a questionnaire for everyone who moves through the space—so they’ll be proactive on the ongoing simplification of the systems.” The sensory experience that Convene’s guests control is comprehensive, especially in the diamond-shaped main auditorium. There, an 18-foot diagonal rear-projection screen is situated in the front of the space, flanked by two 90-inch LED screens on each side, with two more 60-inch displays in the back of the room. Wireless mics, plus additional microphone support when called for, along with a full surround system with subwoofers and additional ceiling speakers, provides the audio component. Videoconferencing and audioconferencing connect the large conference room to the outside world. 12 smaller breakout rooms are all connected to the control system, making them useful for overflow as well as standalone spaces. Additionally, touch overlay LCD screens with whiteboard capabilities make the rooms particularly useful for small-group brainstorming.
Nothing at Convene happens in a vacuum—the AV was planned with the ability to record all audio and video, and then distribute via the internet or over a secure bridge to another corporate location, if required. The facility invested on the infrastructure side in order to have the storage capacity and bandwidth to capture as much content as needed, and the ability to move it through a cloud-based app or direct bridge. On the A/V side, sufficient audio and video equipment to be certain to capture everything that’s physically going on in the spaces was a major part of the investment. Digital signage throughout Old Slip, displayed via LCD displays and individual room schedulers, facilitates way-finding and scheduling for guests on the move. Put together with the sophisticated rooms, it adds up to an AV-enabled space that’s designed to change rapidly the times. “As soon as technology is ready for prime time, that’s what we’ll be incorporating into the center,” the integrator says, “Whatever tech is new and awesome, we’ll be able to drop it in and have that be a part of the visitors’ experience.” This building is proof that AV technology will continue to be an ever-larger part of how we accomplish that.