Back to school

AUTHOR: Inavate

Qatari based integration firm TechnoQ has carried out the first phase of an ongoing project to upgrade and expand the AV facilities at the American School of Doha in Qatar.

The American School of Doha, founded in 1997, has been dramatically expanded in order to welcome more than 1300 students into the middle and high school. The new facility includes a new library, dining hall, two new computer labs, two presentation rooms, eight science labs, six project labs and a 600-seat theatre.

Executive Director of Techno Q, Abdullah Alansari, oversaw the prestigious project for the company and described its involvement. “Our scope was to supply public address and a master antenna TV system to the whole building. In addition we were contracted to supply projection and sound systems to each of 77 classrooms in the new building, as well six AV-equipped laboratories. Under a separate lot we also won the contract to supply the technology fit-out for the new theatre. Here we supplied three separate sound systems as well as AV technology to create truly multipurpose venue for the school.”

The new theatre was designed to accommodate a variety of different applications, from dramatic productions to film screenings and mass debates. The speech reinforcement system employs a pair of Ateis’s Messenger L line array speakers located either side of the stage.

For cinema use, things become a little more complex. TechnoQ installed 12 of JBL’s 8340A –
surround loudspeakers matched with 4642A subwoofers for bass reinforcement. These are powered by 12 Crown CT Series amplifiers controlled by a Lexicon MC-12 Balanced digital surround sound processor and DBX 234XL.

The third system is the main live performance solution. It is again made up of products from the Harman Pro stable, this time including JBL’s VP7315-64 DP cabinets backed up by VPSB7118 DP subs. The units are all self-powered so no separate amplification is necessary however the four JRX112M stage monitored are not, and therefore a pair of CTs 1200 amplifiers were chosen.

On the microphone side, an extensive collection of Shure equipment was supplied. Including SM58 and SM57 hand helds as well as LSX24/58 wireless hand helds. For the podium, TechnoQ selected an Audio-Technica U857QL gooseneck. The audio system is governed by a 56 channel Soundcraft MH-4 console.

A Sanyo PLC-XF46 with long throw lens was the projection choice, which at 12,000 lumens is well capable of both cinema and presentation applications. This was matched with a Draper motorized screen, 253 x 336 inches in size.

Video switching and distribution in the theatre comes from Extron, a 16x16 Crosspoint RGBHV switcher acting as the hub, supported by RGBHV and S-Video distribution amplifiers. An MGP 464 video processor, also from Extron, is used for multi-image handling and split screen applications for presentations.

TechnoQ also installed a comprehensive Crestron control system, based around the Pro-2 central control unit. Two wired TPS touch screens are employed – one on the lecturn and one in the control room. There is also a third, wireless, device for roaming presenters.

All of the school’s events in the theatre can now be recorded thanks to a trio of Sony cameras. Two EVI-D70P units are located on the sides of the auditorium, with a BRC-300P dome camera covering the centre space. All three are controlled via a Crestron camera controller and recording takes place on a Panasonic DMR-ES30VS.

“One important thing about the theatre installation was that we supplied and installed acoustic materials for the walls and ceiling, with some reflectors above the orchestra pit,” added Alansari. “This was designed by Kinetics in the USA from our drawings of the building, and we installed it as per their instructions.”

The other aspect of the new build was the outfitting of the teaching spaces. The new block has 77 standard classrooms, which have been equipped with Extron’s Polevault solution. This wasn’t originally part of the plan. Initially the school specified a requirement for a Master Antenna TV distribution system with a 22" display in each classroom. However it was then realised that if the TVs were substituted for projectors they would have much more usefulness.

Polevault is a simple system ideal for classrooms – a small amplifier/switcher is mounted in the ceiling above the projector capable of driving four ceiling speakers and also receiving video sources for the projector. A wall-mounted input plate then accepts video and audio sources and detects the presence of such sources allowing the projector and amplifier to be automatically powered up and down. Not only does the school now have the MATV system, in this case Cabletime’s MediaStar Pro solution, but every classroom in the new block has a Sanyo projector and Draper screen instead of a small TV.

There are some other rooms in the new building with more advanced AV solutions – a pair of presentation rooms, the two computer labs and so called project-rooms. The penthouse presentation room is perhaps the most interesting of these from a technology standpoint. It features interactive whiteboard technology from Polvision, paired with a portable NEC NP 2000 projector, as well as fixed projection from a Panasonic PT-D5500EL. This is ceiling mounted on a Draper scissor lift and fires onto a 366 x 274cm Draper motorised screen.

Video is again handled by Extron, floor-box connected sources as well as DVD and VCR players being routed through a 16x16 Crosspoint HVA switcher.

The sound system is based on JBL’s Control series, with eight Control 24 ceiling speakers and a quartet of Control 30 wall mounts being installed for sound reinforcement these are driven by an eight channel Crown CTS 8200 with DSP from Peavey’s digitool processor. This is only a small 8x8 unit but ideally suited to the task of handling small systems. The podium is equipped with a Shure EZG/18 microphone and Crestron control panel as well as Polyvision’s Walk Talk wireless kit to go with the interactive whiteboard. A Crestron Pro2 unit is the brains of the outfit. Additional presentation sources include a Samsung SDP-6500 document camera.

The final piece of the jigsaw in the new building was a site-wide public address / voice alarm system. The backbone of this is a digital paging and zoning system from Ateis, which feeds a network of 100V speakers from RCF.

Now that the work on the new site is complete, TechnoQ will be moving on to the renewal of the systems in the old building. Part of the initial contract was to link the two sites with a fibre optic cable. This will allow the PA system to cover both of them once it is completed. They will also be installing AV solutions in several of teaching rooms.

Whilst the project has largely been a success, it has been somewhat delayed, something that Alansari blames on the seemingly never-solved problem of the relationship between the various trades involved on any new-build project. “I think the most challenging part of the project was co-ordination with the other trades. There was a main building contractor, an electro-mechanical contractor and we were subbed to that. Ultimately I think a lack of effective overall project management has led to the delays that arose. That said, the project is now finished and the technology working very well.”