AV and IT overhaul at Bayer headquarters
The UK headquarters of one of the largest names in the pharmaceutical world now boasts technology to match the scientiﬁc innovation it has become renowned for. Charlotte Ashley reports.
“You could say that this was an IT-AV project, not just an AV project,” says Justin Paveley, project director at Focus 21. “We’ve tipped the balance on this one in that we’ve had to use our AV skills to deploy an IT project.” The task in question, providing an extensive AV upgrade as part of the relocation and renovation of biotechnology and pharmaceutical company Bayer, was awarded to the integrator after being handpicked by design consultancy MiX. Focus 21 beat three other companies to clinch the project, and was selected for its attention to detail in the tender stage, work began at the close of 2016.
“This entire project was built around the desire to bring about a cultural change and encourage a more agile way of working,” recalls Glynn Seymour, innovation & infrastructure co-ordinator for Bayer UK & IE on why the company undertook the ‘once in a lifetime move.’ Once home to a basic setup, limited to video conferencing and signage, Bayer and its new Crestron-controlled Green Park HQ now boasts over 60 collaborative spaces, meeting rooms and presentation suites connecting staff both internally and to colleagues and partners around the globe.
“This entire project was built around the desire to bring about a cultural change and encourage a more agile way of working.”
Designers of the system, MiX consultancy, carefully helped Bayer navigate the unfamiliar waters of a construction project from the start, and held workshops with key stakeholders. “We engaged MiX after multiple meetings and visiting reference sites. It was clear they were highly customer focused, and used to dealing in a global enterprise environment and the issues and opportunities that can bring,” says Seymour on the origins of the partnership.
Central to the project is the universality of the equipment’s connectivity and functionality – a concept to beneﬁt everyone involved in the project. “A key component of the strategy was to provide standardisation through consistency and simplicity by minimising customisation but also delivering innovation to the business,” says James Woods, IT/AV consultant at MiX. “This in turn promoted user conﬁdence.”
Focus 21 worked to digest the brief and architectural drawings and create a fully ratiﬁed working design. “As a design and build project, they were designing on the ﬂy so trying to coordinate our installation was difﬁcult,” says Paveley. Focus 21 initially had a 16-week period to deliver the project – including waiting for custom products from the US for videoconferencing - which was extended slightly due to unforeseen delays, the team had to stretch its resources over the holiday period to deliver the project. “We had a two-week period to get 65 rooms up and ready, so time was a huge challenge.”
Following the completion of the main installation in February, technology now spans four ﬂoors of the building – transforming Bayer into a hub of different business and collaborative activity. “There’s a wide range of technology in the building, but probably the most important space in the building is the ground ﬂoor.” Here, around the central atrium space at the heart of the building, employees have access to a 3-way divisible multifunctional space for meetings or recreation, as well as Skype rooms and presentation rooms.
Clients enter the building through a welcome area running BayerHub digital signage, sharing company news and events. Bayer were keen to redeploy a 3.5m x 2m Absen videowall previously installed at its Newbury ofﬁce in the lobby, yet manoeuvring the screen proved to be one of the biggest tests of the project. “The big issue with the videowall was that it was rear access and they wanted it on a wall so we had to design a bracket to allow it to be removed from the wall on a kind of pull-out bracket.” After its installation, the wall was connected to a Sedna Player with an Apple Mac mini for control.
Guests later move to dedicated spaces showcasing Bayer’s latest scientiﬁc innovations. The centrepiece to this is the BayLab, a laboratory area equipped with an NEC projector and 109-in Draper screen and a number of Smart Kapp IQ Pro screens, controlled by a Crestron panel for both wired and wireless presenting.
To the left of the building, staff and guests have access to a large restaurant and café space featuring multiple booths with individual displays and Cisco video conferencing and presentation points. The rest of the space is completed with ﬂoor-wide 46-in NEC displays and Christie projection showing world news, sports events or internal content. Tailored content is shown throughout (i.e. weather forecasts in the morning and trafﬁc news near rush hour) for employees. This is controlled by a Crestron DM Matrix 32 x 32 and an Audio Dante network to facilitate ﬂexible use of the space. The restaurant area opens up to a large town hall space for quarterly employee gatherings which later down the line may be bolstered with an LED videowall.
Currently occupying ﬂoors two, three and four in the building, each of Bayer’s ﬂoors above feature twenty rooms in a standardised set up. Home to a mixture of spaces for internal use, workers on each ﬂoor have access to small or large Skype rooms or dedicated conferencing rooms depending on their requirements, with breakout screens sharing signage throughout the spaces. “There’s also a lot of informal rooms so if you’re stuck for a meeting room space you can quickly sit down and have access to a screen and do a wire-to-wire presentation,” adds Paveley.
Bayer are also beneﬁtting from monitoring room usage according to Seymour; “Having more high-quality integrated video conferencing rooms which are easier to access has encouraged higher usage, and the expansion of our existing Condeco booking system has made sure that we’re using the new technology and the space its housed in the most efﬁcient way.” The whole building is managed by Crestron Fusion RV, allowing IT and FM managers to provide remote management capabilities for AV assets and the building system.
“The biggest achievement across all four ﬂoors was that there was over 400 endpoints put on their network,” states Paveley. “This included lots of wireless presenting receivers, videoconferencing endpoints, Biamp Devio units (on the Skype network), VOIP interfaces, IPTV receivers, breakout screens on their signage network and all the AV kit on our AV control network,” states Paveley. This was in addition to a standard data network providing nearly every room with the ability to do either a wired or wireless presentation.
“The biggest achievement across all four ﬂoors was that there was over 400 endpoints put on the network.”
To ensure everything would be as operational as possible in situ, Focus beta tested products on the network with the client, collecting feedback on how things worked over a period of six weeks. “We also mocked up their whole network in the factory so everything that they saw was as operational as it would have been in their building, because we were given such a short period of time we had to make sure they could just pick up equipment and it would work.”
Working on such a scale was facilitated by a willingness from the client to value outcome over cost. “I think Bayer deﬁnitely saw the return on investment they could get from having technology in the space,” says Paveley. “The package we offered was one of the biggest so I don’t think was cost was too much of an issue. It was more about getting the space right and beneﬁting from the ﬂexibility of the workspace.”
Focus 21 secured a 3-year maintenance project to continue to support Bayer, with day-to-day support also offered by the company’s in-house IT team. “We’re already quoting for new products on pretty much a weekly basis so there’s deﬁnitely developments in the pipeline,” says Paveley. On the company’s new meeting room and ofﬁce facilities, Seymour from Bayer concluded: “It’s clear the overall effect of the new environment has both inspired and engaged colleagues, and the AV provision has been pivotal in enabling that change.”
Amptronic phased array induction system
Atterotech Dante interface
Canford rack monitor loudspeaker
Clock Audio table microphones
Crestron ceiling loudspeakers
Exterity audio ampliﬁers
Innovox custom soundbars
KEF motorised ceiling speakers
Shure audio network interface and ceiling microphone arrays
Signet induction loop kit
Yamaha microphone Dante interface and zoned audio ampliﬁers
Axeos dual screen ﬂoor mount and custom housing
Biamp Devio, DSP digital network servers, VoIP interfaces and input & output cards
Cisco HD cameras, HD VC codec with SpeakerTrack and Dante network switches
Condeco Room Manager panel
Crestron 3-Series control system, wireless presentation system, touch panels, Fusion software, Digital Media matrix switches, transmitters, extenders and receivers
Draper motorised ceiling hoists and projector screens
Exterity IPTV set top boxes, AvediaStream 3-slot chassis, dual TV gateways and H.264 encoder & receivers
Logitech PTZ cameras
Middle Atlantic racks and accessories
NEC projectors, monitors and displays
Peerless wall arms, brackets, mounts and ceiling kits
Sedna signage players
Smart dual screen LRS System and interactive white boards
Spaun 16-way multiswitch