All photos courtesy of University of Auckland

University of Auckland’s New Engineering Building Wired for Collaboration with Extron AV Solutions

Our team began this project with little AV over IP network experience. Extron helped us from design through commissioning. It was a great collaboration and we gained knowledge that made us confident that we can maintain the system over the long term.

Jay Ban
AV Design and Project Technician
University of Auckland

New Zealand’s premier public research university, the University of Auckland, opened a new home for its Faculty of Engineering in January 2020. The $280 million building provides 4,000 engineering students in five engineering departments with flexible state-of-the-art classrooms, research laboratories, and workshops that encourage collaboration. AV systems in every corner of the building allow instructors and students to incorporate engaging multimedia into lesson plans, seminars, and research projects. In all, 84 rooms are AV-capable, made possible by an extensive Extron switching, distribution, and control system.

Challenges

The new engineering building is designed for flexibility and scalability. Supporting that goal, the AV system can route any source to any display over a dedicated 1 Gbps AV over IP network that includes Dante audio. This network relies on Extron NAV® Pro Encoders and Decoders, Dante-enabled Digital Matrix Processors, and Dante Audio Interface units for ingress and egress of AV content. The Extron NAVigator manages, configures and controls the NAV endpoints, while overall AV system control and user interface functions are handled by Extron touchpanels and control processors over the building’s enterprise Ethernet network.

Solution

The AV System was designed by the University’s Learning Environment Support Unit - LESU staff with assistance from Extron. Installation was performed by Provision Technologies Ltd, Advanced AV Ltd, and Resolution AV Company Ltd. Integration and commissioning was performed by the University's LESU staff, Extron, and AVW Special Services Group.

Networked Multi-Disciplinary Learning Spaces

Each Multi-disciplinary Learning Space is a flexible classroom with an instructor station, displays, and streaming capability. The rooms connect to the AV network through NAV E 101 Encoders and NAV SD 101 Decoders. Dante audio network connectivity is via DMP 128 Plus AT Digital Matrix Processors and AXI 22 AT Dante Audio Interface units. Each room has an SMP 351 Streaming Media Processor that feeds live or stored lesson content to the college network for remote learners. The instructor station includes an SW4 HD 4K PLUS Switcher to select HDMI lesson material from a PC, a laptop, a mobile camera, or a guest device. Each room also has HDMI ports where students can plug-in to share their content via the AV network. The instructor speaks over a wireless microphone tied into the Dante network. The rooms have flat panel displays on all walls, and larger rooms also have projectors. The instructor controls the room’s AV system with a TLP Pro 1022T 10" TouchLink Pro touchpanel and an IPCP Pro 255 Control Processor.

Networked Seminar Rooms and Lecture Theaters

The building hosts special events and large lecture sessions in two seminar rooms and two lecture theaters built around DTP CrossPoint 108 4K IPCP MA 70 4K Scaling Presentation Matrix Switchers supported by DTP transmitters, receivers, and distribution amplifiers capable of transporting 4K video and audio over shielded twisted pair cable up to 330 feet (100 meters). The matrix switchers select from a variety of AV content sources, including a lectern-mounted PC, document camera, and annotation tablet, a PTZ camera showing a view of the room, VGA and HDMI from guest devices, and audio from wired and wireless microphones. The lectern’s annotation tablet is supported by an Annotator 300 Annotation Processor with DTP extension. Display options in these rooms include projectors in the lecture theaters, and a combination of projectors and flat panel displays in the seminar rooms. All four rooms connect to the AV network via NAV Encoders and Decoders, allowing them to send and receive AV content to or from any device on the network. Cross-connections between the matrix switchers in the two seminar rooms allow the AV systems to be combined to merge the rooms for larger gatherings. The same is true for the lecture theaters. All four rooms have SMP 351 units for live or delayed streaming of content to the university network for viewing by remote participants. For clear sound, the rooms include Extron audio amplifiers and ceiling speakers. And for intuitive AV system control, there are TLP Pro 1022T touchpanels on the podiums coupled to IP Link Pro Control Processors.

Networked Videowalls in Public Atriums

The second-floor public atrium features a 3x3 videowall of 55" flat panel displays. The fourth-floor atrium has a similar 3x2 videowall. For optimum versatility, each videowall flat panel display has its own connection to the AV network through separate NAV Decoders dedicated to each display. Normally, the videowalls display general interest messaging supplied from a pair of dedicated videowall computers connected to the AV Network via NAV encoders. But the videowalls can display any program content that is on the AV network, and the public can control this using a TLP Pro touchpanel located at each videowall. This gives the public the unique opportunity to view what each teaching venue is currently presenting.

Results

As the person responsible for overseeing construction and commissioning of the engineering building, University of Auckland’s Building Program Coordinator Mike Renwick notes, “It was a fantastic feeling when the building was ready for occupation, with the impressive world-class range of flexible teaching spaces and complex research labs being ready for teaching staff, researchers and the future engineers of New Zealand.” Adding perspective about how the building’s AV system came together so well, University of Auckland AV Design and Project Technician Jay Ban observes, “Our team began this project with little AV over IP network experience. Extron helped us from design through commissioning. It was a great collaboration and we gained knowledge that made us confident that we can maintain the system over the long term.”

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