Kelvin Hall becomes fit for purpose

A €35m investment has transformed a 90-year historic venue in the city of Glasgow to meet the needs of its next generation of citizens. Paul Milligan finds out how it was done.

Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall began life as an exhibition centre in 1927 and has been used for a variety of uses in the 90 years since, including hosting high profile sporting events and providing a home to the city’s Museum of Transport.   As part of the legacy of hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games, a decision was made to completely refurbish and reinvent the building, starting in late 2014.  Glasgow City Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Scottish government, Glasgow University and Historic Scotland, funded the phased redevelopment.

The phase-one development of the refurbished and expanded site (a glass-paned extension was added) has resulted in a health and fitness centre at the site, incorporating a modern health and fitness centre incorporating an 8-court multipurpose sports hall, 4-court gymnastics hall, 3 dedicated group fitness studios and the largest fitness gym in the city at over 1,000m2.  The site is also home to a theatre for Glasgow University, and over 1.5 million pieces from Glasgow’s civic collection in the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive.  

LG Kelvin Hall April 2017 (11 of 36)

A planned second phase of redevelopment will turn a 16,000sq m hall, once occupied by the Transport Museum, into a new home for the Hunterian museum by 2020.
Despite the appearance of the venue changing, the owners have maintained the multi-purpose nature of the site.  Local integrator SSUK was tasked with supplying AV for a vast range of purposes for the whole of the site, bar the National Library.  SSUK is a long-standing incumbent AV supplier to Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life, a charitable organisation that manages cultural and sporting events and facilities in Glasgow.  Because of that long-term relationship it was initially asked to write the specification for the project, but also subsequently won the tender to conduct the work. 

Scott Maitland, commercial director for SSUK takes up the story, “We were given the outline brief of what the client required, and we then had to build the spec around that brief.  We did an evaluation on some products, so it would put in a solution that was fit to purpose.  Because we know what the client wanted, and we have fitted out all their other (fitness) studios we had a really good handle on what they required, not just in terms of the management side of things from a budget perspective, but right down to the operational aspects from the teams on-site, we know what they want operationally.  So we were better suited than anyone to understand not just the builder’s brief but the client’s expectations.”

The client wanted an AV solution that was totally multi-purpose for a mixture of events and requirements. “It had to be fit that,” says Maitland. “It had to be exceptionally simple to operate, from an end user point of view.   We have non AV-trained personnel using these rooms, for example we have fitness instructors from 15 different venues, using 15 different standards, coming into these rooms.  AV is alien to them, so it has to be very, very simple.  We have taken the mindset that everyone entering the building has a smartphone, and knows how to use one.  Every room has AMX touchpanel control, based on a similar layout to the one you’d find on most smartphones.   If an instructor wants to turn on music in room number 1, they hit a button and a sliding volume control appears.”

LG Kelvin Hall April 2017 (1 of 36)

Getting the project to meet the client’s needs was a combination of knowledge and experience says Maitland.  “It comes down to our vision of how we thought it would all work.  The client didn’t tell us how they wanted it to work, we have used our knowledge and our experience of what we have provided the client previously, to give them what they require. That is what they trust us to do, they very rarely come to us and say ‘we want this or that’, they rely on us to do it for them.”

SSUK installed Onelan digital signage throughout the building which allows Glasgow Life and its partners to display informative content to visitors on LG SM5KB displays in sizes ranging from 32-in to 55-in.  Once installed SSUK now works with Onelan partner, One Media, to meet content refresh SLAs on bahlf of the client.  In the spin studio a 4x2 LG videowall is connected to a Virtual Fit Box for Les Mills virtual spin classes (instead of having an instructor present you watch one on a large screen).  Audio for the big screen is provided by a combination of Tannoy loudspeakers and subwoofers, Powersoft amplifiers and Symetrix DSPs.  

Outside each fitness suite 32-in LG displays are held in place by Peerless-AV mounts.   On this project every piece of kit was tried and tested by his team says Maitland.  “We went with Tannoy for audio, a lot of people tend to do things easy, and you find people will group Tannoy with Lab.gruppen, because it comes from the same supply chain. We don’t do that.  On this project we used Powersoft amps, and paired it with Symetrix DSPs, and we were fortunate both of those come from the same house.  This is the first audio system in Glasgow within the city’s leisure development that is entirely connected via Dante.” Maitland and his team worked closely with local distributors CUK on putting together the audio for this large install.

LG Kelvin Hall April 2017 (36 of 36)

The Kelvin Hall is a category B listed building, so did that pose any problems to SSUK? “Before our engineers lift a tool they have to fit out risk assessment forms to take in the sympathetic nature of that building.  There are some areas where we couldn’t drill at all, so we had to come up with creative ways of having floor-mounted fixtures in behind walls,” says Maitland.  “We have an industry in which people will buy from a catalogue, will price on a box-shifting exercise, and will not put any factor into when you can’t fix something onto the wall because its 150-years-old lath and plaster and you need to find another solution.  You can’t do that in 10 minutes, so the box-shifting ‘just get it out of the door and accept the cheapest price’ approach doesn’t work in these environments.”

Besides working in a listed building, what were the other challenges SSUK had to face in this project? “The main one was coordinating with other stakeholders,” says Maitland.  “Making sure we were at every project management meeting.  That is something that doesn’t get factored in to our task, there’s a lot of time and effort involved in that, and a lot of people don’t think its essential.  We can address building and cabling issues, the only thing that stops us in the middle is having an understanding of the timelines of the different trades, that is essential because if the joiner moves on, the main building contractor will not allow me to send a team in to undo all the work he has just done.  So the project management of other stakeholders within the project is key.  You have to go and sit in a meeting rather than just answer emails.”

On a project this size says Maitland its vital to get the AV cabling installed at the earliest opportunity, “as soon as the builder has finished phase 2, and they are putting frames up and building walls, and the electrician starts to puts cabling in, and the network and fire alarm teams come in, that’s when I want to get in to our cabling in, so we are in first fix position. Because we are attending weekly meetings we can pick things up as quickly as we can, and make on-site alterations.  The client isn’t aware there was an issue, and the main contractor is delighted because he can then instruct his mixed trade to go behind us.”  

The client is delighted with the project, and this is prompting future work for SSUK says Maitland.  “Best part of client feedback for me is when they call you back and say ‘we need your advice because we want to do something different in room 1, 2 or 3’ and its not because what we have put in is wrong, it’s because the project is now starting to change.  It’s a project that will keep on giving.”


Main Rack

2 x Symetrix Radius 12x8 digital sound processor to link to Symetrix equipment in each area
3no. Dance Studios all as per below spec
2 x Tannoy VLS15 Speakers c/w mounting bracket
1 x Tannoy VSX12.2BP Sub speaker c/w mounting bracket
1 x Powersoft M20D Amplifier
1 x Powersoft M30D Amplifier
1 x Atterotech UND3IO Dante Input Plate
1 x Apart Audio PC1000RMKII audio player
1 x Symetrix xln12: 12 input Dante expander
1 x Symetrix xOut
1 x AMX MXD700. Wall mounted control panel
1 x AMX NI3200 central controller
1 x Furman CN3600E Mains distribution unit

Large Sports Hall

4 x Tannoy VLS30 Speakers c/w mounting bracket
4 x Tannoy VSX12.2BP Sub speaker c/w mounting bracket
1 x Powersoft M50Q Amplifier
2 x Powersoft M30D Amplifier
1 x Atterotech UND3IO Dante Input Plate
1 x Apart Audio PC1000RMKII audio player
1 x Symetrix XOut Dante Expander
1 x Symetrix IN12 Dante Expander
1 x AMX MXD700. Wall mounted control panel
1 x AMX NI3200 central controller
1 x TSL – Furman CN3600E Mains distribution unit
1 x 19” rack c/w lockable doors, blank plates, power distribution etc

Smaller Sports Hall

2 x Tannoy VLS30 Speakers c/w mounting bracket
2 x Tannoy VSX12.2BP Sub speaker c/w mounting bracket
2 x Powersoft M30D Amplifier (or equivalent)
1 x Atterotech UND3IO Dante Input Plate
1 x Apart Audio PC1000RMKII audio player (or equivalent)
1 x AMX MXD700. Wall mounted control panel (or equivalent)

Gym with cardio and weightlifting equipment

8 x Tannoy VX8 Speakers c/w mounting bracket
16 x Tannoy VX8.2 Speaker c/w mounting bracket
2 x Tannoy VX8.2BP Sub bass Speaker c/w mounting bracket
3 x Powersoft M28Q Amplifier
1 x Powersoft M14D Amplifier
3 x Atterotech UND3IO Dante Input Plats
1 x Apart Audio PC1000RMKII audio player
1 x Digital Stream DHP8100U Freeview tuner
1 x Symetrix IN12 Dante Expander
1 x Symetrix Out Dante Expander
3 x Symetrix ARC3. Wall mounted control panel
1 x Furman CN3600E Mains Distribution Unit

Background Music & Paging System

70 x Tannoy CVS4 ceiling speakers
1 x T & M 120P Amp
1 x T & M 240P Amp
1 x AMX700 touchscreen controller
1 x AMX NI1200
1 x Symetrix In Dante Expander
1 x Symetrix Out Dante Expander
1 x Apart Audio PCR3000RMKII
1 x Cloud PM1

Videowall in dance studio

4 x LG 55LV35A Videowall screen
4 x Peerless VW765 quick release videowall bracket
1 x Datapath X4 videowall controller

Digital Signage

6 x Iiyama TF4237MSC 42” touchscreens
6 x LG 49SE3KB commercial displays
3 x LG 32” SE3KB
1 x Onelan NTB-HD-10F-S
15 x Onelan NTB-HD10F-S
15 x Onelan stream in licence for IPTV
6 x Onelan touch licence for 42-in touchscreens


1 x Exterity AvediaStream G4340 DVB TV Gateway