Fit for a king

Mohammad Nazzal, project manager of a $500,000 university auditorium talks to Anna Mitchell about the year long undertaking that incorporated video conferencing, projection, translation and CCTV systems.

The King Abdullah II School for Information Technology is a faculty in the University of Jordan. It was founded in 1962 and is located in the Jubeiha Area of Jordan’s capital, Amman.

In the summer of 2007 work began on a new auditorium that would provide the department with a 350 seat venue, complete with more than 200 delegate microphones, infra-red translation system, audio system and video system, including video conferencing.

Following a successful bid, International New Technical Est, an Amman based installation company, started on the half a million US dollar (€400,000) project. Mohammad Nazzal, part owner of International New Technical Est and project manager for the installation described how the contract came directly from the engineering department at the University of Jordan.

“Usually, for a project like this, the client will appoint a building contractor that will take care of everything and subcontract out various parts of the project, for example they would give us the audiovisual,” he said. “In this case the University waited until the contractor handed over the building and then chose us to install the audiovisual elements.

“That way it was better,” continued Nazzal. “I prefer dealing directly with the owner. Sometimes when you have the main contractor in the middle he is trying to save from the budget. Also it can be good for the client because you offer the same price whether it is to the contractor or client. The contractor will add to this price and make it more expensive.”

The install was a complete turnkey project and International New Technical Est handled civil works, installation of customised seats, decoration and finishings, in addition to all the audiovisual elements.

Within the auditorium an Auditel conference system includes 217 fixed delegate microphones incorporated into the seat arms. The infrared-translation system, also from Auditel, provides the audience and speakers with 100 conference headphones and 100 Infrared Receivers.

Polycom handled video conferencing. Nazzal utilised the company’s VSX People to connect to the VSX 8000 series for high resolution “face to face” meetings.

A 700 ANSI projector and a 9000 LCD projector, both from Sanyo, provide video projection. The audience views content on a large electronic projection screen, from Projecta. Sony was chosen to supply a six head VHS and a DVD player. Switching and scan converting is provided by an Extron ISS482 eight input switcher and Extron DVS-304 scan converter.

D.A.S. Audio speakers handle sound reinforcement with two 300w main cabinets and two 300w subs. Furthermore Nazzal chose a D.A.S amplifier, Marantz CD player and Soundcraft mixer.

A Dedicated Micros CCTV system records activity in the auditorium which can be watched on a 14” Hitachi colour monitor.

With the install complete, Nazzal said it became apparent that there were certain issues with acoustics, particularly a problem with echo. “The echo issue was bothering the client,” explained Nazzal. “There are many ways to deal with acoustics issues but the University was limited by its budget. Therefore, we came up with an economic solution and put decorative panels on the walls. This was just a simple wood panel with a fabric covering. It was made locally and was very cost effective.”

The auditorium is designed as a multipurpose venue, often hosting seminars, meetings and conferences. “You name it, they can accommodate it,” said Nazzal. “It is not only used by the IT faculty, the building manager has received many requests from other faculties to use the auditorium. It has become a landmark and masterpiece in the University. He was very impressed when he had many requests from different deans, different faculties asking to use the auditorium for different conferences, different activities.”

Despite Nazzal’s team spending about five months working, the project took one year to complete. Nazzal said this was partly because the University added requirements as the project went on, but he said it was mostly due to the working conditions.

“Because of the nature of the job we were working right by the faculty. We had a lot of complaints that we were making noises especially when we were drilling, doing demolition and moving the old tiles and concrete.

“It is a very special working environment with special needs. Most of the time they had classes and at certain times they had lots of exams. This was the main factor in why we had to take a long time. Sometimes we had to work on holidays to finish on time. It was restrictive in terms of when we could work but they were very co-operative.

“We wanted to work professionally and make the client as comfortable as possible with minimum complaints or issues regarding our work on the project. But, at the end of the day, we had to do what we had to do. There were a few problems but in the end everyone was happy.”

This was the first project undertaken by International New Technical Est at the University of Jordan but Nazzal hopes it won’t be the last.

“I think we will work with them in the future, it was one of the most successful projects I have ever worked on,” he concluded.

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