In the city
When ISG fitted out modern and prestigious headquarters for Standard Bank in London it turned to UK integrator Asysco. Anna Mitchell explores the sprawling installation, which, due to the international nature of the bank's business, makes extensive use of videoconferencing equipment.
Sixteen years after Standard Bank established its London headquarters it moved into a new home on Gresham Street. The facility serves as the bank’s base for its Corporate and Investment Banking arm to expand into emerging markets. The 150,000 sq ft facility houses 900 staff and acts as the hub from which all international operations outside Africa are managed.
Consultant CMS devised an AV solution that incorporated extensive video conferencing systems to enable the bank to serve its global markets while limiting travel. ISG, the main contractor selected Asysco to handle the complete AV installation that included meeting and presentation equipment and building-wide TV distribution.
Asysco equipped four meeting rooms on the ground floor with two 46” NEC LCD displays, wall-mounted with Chief and custom made brackets. All video and computer signals can be displayed on the screens. Presenters have the ability to connect a laptop computer to the network, via connections at the table, which allows them to display presentations on the LCD screens.
The company has ensured staff using the meeting rooms are fully equipped for presentation either within the room or, using videoconferencing equipment, out of it. JBL ceiling speakers and AV input sources for laptops and PCs join AV conferencing solutions via a mobile codec based Polycom system. A video camera is integrated within the “set top” codec. Audio sources to the ceiling speakers include those from the mobile video conferencing system and audio from the laptop computer source. Audio conferencing is handled via a tabletop unit.
Two of the meeting rooms are furnished with a Revolabs wireless conference microphone system and AV equipment is controlled with Extron remote control units. In the two smaller meeting rooms an Extron wall mounted touch panel provides control for equipment and environment settings. The ground floor’s two open offices house 42” NEC plasma screens, both of which have TV inputs and are centrally controlled with AMX equipment.
Crisis and learning rooms, also located on the ground floor, are equipped with the same equipment as the smaller meeting rooms and are used by the bankers to respond to incidents in the market. From here, employees can sit and monitor the markets, making collaborative decisions with colleagues both in and out of the room, thanks to the video conferencing equipment. Audio is provided, once again, via JBL ceiling speakers and Crown amplifiers.
More meeting rooms are spread across the first level of the building. Two of these boast additional AV input sources for Blu-Ray, HD-DVD and TV. Audio and video conferencing in these rooms is handled by fixed systems, including fixed beyerdynamic gooseneck microphones and JBL ceiling speakers. As with other meeting rooms, Polycom equipment was chosen for conferencing. The system incorporates the videoconferencing codec, mixing equipment, cameras, cabling and software. Here, an AMX wireless touch screen control unit manages audiovisual and environment controls.
In the company’s first floor boardroom, Asysco has installed a 103” Panasonic plasma display. An LG Blu-Ray DVD player is rack mounted in a Middle Atlantic unit and JBL ceiling speakers provide unobtrusive sound reinforcement for meetings and conferences. Each place around the large and impressive table is furnished with beyerdynamic gooseneck microphones and HD videoconferencing equipment, comprising Sony cameras, Vaddio brackets and Polycom HD videoconfering equipment. The boardroom is also home to an Ampertronic induction loop hearing system. All audiovisual equipment and environment controls are operated via AMX equipment and Extron was selecting for routing and switching equipment, as well as extenders and AV matrixes. Further to the installed gooseneck microphones, Beyerdynamic wireless microphones were provided and Furman handled power conditioning.
A lounge has been provided for clients on the first floor. A 46” NEC LCD display screen, again mounted using Chief brackets, presides over the open area. Nearby three open offices boast five NEC 42” display monitors, alongside four 37” Philips plasma units.
Five meeting rooms and six open offices sprawl across the second floor of the building, while level three houses seven meeting rooms and eight open offices. All incorporate largely similar audiovisual equipmen and every single meeting room has audio- and videoconferencing capability. Furthermore Asysco was tasked with providing a mobile videoconferencing solution. For this service Asysco designed and built a custom made trolley and turned, once again to Polycom for all conferencing equipment.
A Wharton Clocks time zone system was installed as part of the AV setup. “These are LED clocks,” explains Richard Brooks, managing director, of Asysco. “Wharton are a British manufacturer and their clocks are now used in almost every installation we do at major financial institutions. Ten years ago they were an obscure supplier but now, when you’re on a trading floor and you want to see the time in Tokyo, New York or the various markets then usually you’ll be using a Wharton clock. They’re made to order and you define the number of time zones you want.”
Asysco installed three eleven zone clocks and one ten zone clock at Standard Bank. “They’re linked either by satellite or networked to a time-server so they’re absolutely accurate,” continued Brooks. “They’re linked via GPS so they’re referenced and not just free-running. These things are spot on. [The bankers] want to know the time to the half second and time is absolutely critical so they’re a key product.”
The company also provided a building-wide TV distribution system for TV and IPTV content. It incorporated TV signal acquisition, including TV aerial and dish on the roof, IP-rated marshalling box, coax distribution and amplifier/splitters and cabling.
Brooks explained that the install had to be fitted into a tight time frame, adding that often on projects of this kind time pressures are exacerbated by programme progression of preceding trades. “At the end of the day,” he sad, “although we do our first fix we are a tail end trade contractor. We can’t put in AV when the walls aren’t up. We have to be fluid and we’re always reactive, which is the reason why these teams work with us. We’ll always jump through hoops and make sure the project gets delivered.
“The other added pressure we’ve seen on our projects over the last few years is when you’re wiring microphones into tables for videoconferencing systems, it’s quite an extensive job to handle all the wiring and get it plugged into the system. But, we’ll often find the furniture is not being bought through the contract. It’s being bought separately and it’s not delivered until they move in the building. So the challenge is they immediately want to use the space when the furniture goes in and we’ve got to wire it up. So, I think programme compression is always a challenge. But, having said that, we’re used to this. It’s nothing untoward, it’s just what we expect and it’s part of getting the job done.”
Asysco is already working on another phase at the Gresham Street facility and Brooks says, thanks to the success of the original install, this time they’re working directly with the bank. “When we embarked on the original installation Standard Bank were a new client for us,” Brooks says. “Now, they’re a managed service client and we currently working on another phase, directly with the bank.” He says the bank is currently doing very well and is therefore an expanding operation. “ISG are still doing the fit-out but this time we’re not working for them, we’re working directly for the bank because they’ve chosen to employ us.”
Ampertronic induction loop systems
Beyerdynamic gooseneck microphones and wireless microphone system
Extron distribution amplifiers
Crown audio mixers/amplifiers
Furman OM-8E Series II’s
JBL ceiling speakers
Polycom audio processing and microphone systems
Revolabs wireless conference microphone systems
Sabine feedback exterminators
Xantech infrared receivers
AMX control systems
Extron computer/video interfaces, remote panel controllers, matrixes, extenders, scalers, processors and scan converters
LG Blu-Ray DVD players
Middle Atlantic racks
NEC 46” LCDs and 42” plasmas
Panasonic 103” plasma and DVD players
Philips 37” plasmas
Polycom videoconferencing systems (including HD systems)
Wharton time zone display