Perhaps the toughest and most critical element of designing AVL systems for auditoriums is proper coordination with all the other teams. As audio-visual and theatrical lighting designers, we find ourselves being selected to join teams all throughout the process, from design development to construction administration to commissioning, and this can create a lot of challenges for the AVL system integration. Too many times we see spaces in which AVL decisions weren’t thought through during the design phase. The result is that the technical systems (audio, video, and lighting) end up not being integrated into the space (bad aesthetics) or forced to exist in areas of the room in which they have sub-par performance (bad function). A well designed system that has been coordinated with the other trades and the architecture of the building provides a great aesthetic for the room and excellent functionality for the tech systems.
One of the biggest keys for good AVL coordination is including the AVL consultant early in the design conversations. When the project is still in the schematic phase (before the team is committed to a design) the audio-visual systems need to be thought through and discussed. Where are the video screens going to be placed for optimal viewing, and how can we make them work with the architecture? How large do the speakers need to be to meet the performance requirements, and where do they need to be located? Where are the stage lights going to be placed, and how will users access them for maintenance? Where can we save money and where do we need top notch gear? Discussions like these can help define the architectural aspects of the room and let the AVL systems be an integral part of the space, not an addition to the space.
Ultimately, late AVL design and integration can have a negative impact on the project’s budget. Creating solutions for problems (problems that could have been avoided) costs time and resources for all the trades, and that’s money that could be spent elsewhere. As project deadlines near, AVL decisions can be rushed into without full consideration for aesthetics, function, and price. You want all three, but you have time for none. The best case scenario is to involve an independent design firm like us early on in the process. We work with architects and project teams to make sure AVL is properly coordinated from the get go.