Uber's AV excellence at award-winning EMEA HQ

At Uber’s EMEA HQ, technical excellence and intelligent design converge. Reece Webb explores this Inavation Award-winning corporate masterpiece.

Seeking a brand new EMEA headquarters for its international team, Uber aimed to bring together its disparate teams from across the city of Amsterdam into one facility that combined functionality and wow-factor with technology at the very core of the building’s experience. This gold-standard project would go on to win the Corporate Project category at the 2024 Inavation Awards.

With conversations beginning in 2020, Uber turned to its long-standing global AV partner TwistedPair to assist Uber’s internal global teams. The objective was clear: Create a new hub for Uber’s EMEA HQ that provides an array of working environments to suit a wide range of working styles, enabled by leading AV technology. The spaces within Uber’s new headquarters would not just be your standard corporate spaces – each room had to be designed with ‘wow factor’ in mind, ensuring that visitors have a lasting impression of the space.

Additionally, Uber adheres to stringent sustainability and employee wellbeing standards which had to be kept in mind.

TwistedPair was initially brought on board in an advisory role, supporting Uber’s teams to design the technology experience within this space. This involvement evolved into a 12-month deployment and delivery of a project that not only led to a smart and impressive design, but also a seamless and professional experience for Uber’s employees.

Ben Sharp, client director, TwistedPair, explains: “We were [initially] asked to do the consultancy piece with the contractors and exec teams of Uber. We were asked to make sure that we gathered the requirements and standards from Uber in terms of what we needed and what the areas of concern were. Before we got the project, there was two and a half years of work beforehand. We’ve done several projects for Uber, but this is a massive one.

“We also did the drawings and markups for CAD prior to the bid going out and us pricing it up. It wasn’t a done deal at all, we were up against two other AV integrators, but we had a better understanding as we had been working on it for so long.”

A company of this size required a technological delivery that was matching in scope and scale: a hub-like summit space, a hefty 154 meeting rooms of varying sizes, as well as hundreds of kilometres of cabling and plenty of digital signage installations throughout the building.

Additionally, Uber adheres to BREEAM and WELL certifications, requiring a building design and operation that conforms to Uber’s sustainability policies and employee wellbeing.

Ian Howard, director of major projects, TwistedPair, says: “Although we haven’t done a project of this size before, Uber decided to trust in us to carry out the design and consultancy element, which is testament to our relationship with them over the years.”

Reach the summit 

At the top of Uber’s priority list was the creation of a summit space for teams to use as an ‘all hands’ area. This space is built with team events in mind, giving users the best experience with the latest tech and a preamble space. This area can be subdivided into three separate spaces for events and other activities.

Sharp explains: “It was the bespoke areas like this that we needed to spend more time in. Ian Howard was paramount in spec’ing this area. It’s quite a challenging space, as the ceiling height is quite low and there are windows across all areas of the ‘all-hands’ area apart from the backwall where the AV booth is. There were lots of challenges there in terms of mounting, size of screen, how it would fit and making sure that the size of equipment is appropriate when the space is divided up.”

At the heart of the summit space are four Samsung The Wall 0.84mm LED videowalls, one for each ‘divisible’ area of the space to ensure that each divided room has access to the same facilities and provides the same experience throughout. Samsung displays helped to meet Uber’s sustainability criteria as the displays are manufactured in Europe, cutting down in shipping costs and carbon footprint.

Sharp continues: “In each room, we have a custom ratio LED wall. Initially, we looked at a standard 4K resolution, but Uber likes to use two displays for conferencing, so we added a column on the end of each one to make it two 86-in displays in essence across each display.

Howard adds: “On the outside, we have a pre-amble area where we have a 32:9 LED wall which can be used as an overflow to the summit space or as a standalone event space as well.”

Due to the floor-to-ceiling windows in the space, the Samsung displays could not be mounted using traditional mounts as they would block out the light. Working in collaboration with Peerless-AV, Uber was able to meet its aim for minimal obstruction below the screen and above. Peerless-AV came on site and created a custom, dual pole mount for each LED in that space, allowing more light into the building when the LEDs are mounted. The displays are also supported by Barco E2 videowall processors which, though usually used in large venues and concerts, were chosen to give Uber additional flexibility with different content layouts across the LED canvas, or by showing multiple content sources on the displays simultaneously.

Sharp says: “We also put a camera behind each screen, so that when there is no presentation on, you see the view outside the window on the LED, so it looks like three big windows. Peerless designed the whole spec of the LED mounts, however the pre-amble display is wall mounted.”

The summit space features Renkus Heinz CA series loudspeakers and Biamp TCM-X beam-tracking microphones throughout to cater to the flexible audio requirements of Uber’s events. Speakers have access to Shure ULXD microphones, and a combination of Logitech Rally and Panasonic PTZ cameras to bring a video experience to the room for various events.

Meet at the door

With so many teams now operating under one roof, TwistedPair was tasked with delivering 154 meeting rooms to enhance collaboration through user-friendly AV technology.

Sharp explains: “There are small, medium, and large spaces, as well as Teams Rooms. The standard rooms feature LG displays and Neat Bars or Neat Bar Pros [depending on size]. In some of the Teams rooms, they use Dten D7 displays on Salamander mounts. The Teams rooms are more geared towards collaboration, and there are 10 of those across the space.”

The meeting rooms are largely standardised, featuring an LG display ranging from 32-in to 86-in supported by Chief mounts.

More than 40 digital signage displays were also installed throughout the building, with both wall-mounted LG 55-in displays with BrightSign players as well as Elo 55-in interactive wayfinder displays in portrait orientation, using BrightSign players.

On the networking side, ZeeVee’s Zypher UHD AVoIP encoders were selected for use throughout the project, supported by Crestron touchpanels in the bespoke spaces and Logitech booking panels for the meeting rooms.

Howard explains: “This was around the time when Crestron had long lead times. All of the bespoke spaces were based on Crestron NVX, which was not going to be available in time. We had originally designed the project around NVX in the early stages, but we had to make a swap over to ZeeVee. We demonstrated how this would work to the client, and that was quite a curveball later on in the project.

“That impacted room booking as well. We originally specified Crestron room booking panels but switched over to Logitech panels in the end.”

AV as a science

TwistedPair also stepped in to deliver a custom remote lab environment, an area used as an office space. “They wanted capability for testing out multiple items of hardware,” explains Howard. “Some kit is installed permanently, but could be moved and changed. There is a rack so that kit can be patched in for testing, based on Uber’s requirements.”

This space is equipped with a 55-in LG screen, powered by a Brightsign player. On the audio side, TwistedPair supplied Biamp microphones, Extron SM 26T speakers, a Neat Bar Pro for videoconferencing and a Dten D7 videoconferencing display.

The cafe area welcomes both staff and visitors and is equipped with Extron SF 26PT loudspeakers and Shure MXW2/ BETA58 microphones, supported by a Crestron 10-in touchpanel.

For a facility of this size, cabling presented a major hurdle to be overcome, with 300km of cabling distributed throughout 11 floors. Sharp explains: “We did all of the structured cabling and network equipment as well. We were making sure that when we came to the install of the AV, we had everything that we needed from a network and data perspective in those rooms.”

With Uber’s expectations firmly met, TwistedPair continues to operate on site with ongoing expansions to the facility. The TwistedPair team are currently working on an expansion to Uber’s headquarters, creating a new training facility for Uber staff at the very top of the building.

Sharp explains: “We’re installing the training room on floors 10 and 11. We are just about to carry out this installation in the next two to three months. This will be a divisible space with an LED display either side. Uber is going for LG 136-in displays. This space has a much higher ceiling as there is more visibility outside and it’s about knowing what works and what doesn’t work up there.”

The project was wrapped up within 10 months and delivered on time and on budget, but the work for TwistedPair doesn’tstop here. Today, Uber’s EMEA headquarters is supported by an on-site engineer, remaining on site with Uber for a year to

support employees with the AV system and to troubleshoot any issues that arise. This on-site support also extends to training and support to Uber’s staff, which is tailored to Uber’s specific needs. Additionally, TwistedPair offers  24/7 remote support for Uber, with the integrator’s team able to access the on-site AV system remotely to troubleshoot any issues that arise.

The integrator has even opened a local office in the Netherlands to purchase stock through local suppliers to enhance the support for clients in the Netherlands, including Uber.

Howard says: “This was our biggest project to date, so we wanted to meet our own internal expectations on this project, which we did. We wouldn’t have done anything differently as it all worked out how we wanted it to, and the client is over the moon with this installation.”

Sharp closes: “It was the pre-planning that helped us massively. Being aware of the scale, the environment of the building and what to expect all key into that when it comes to delivering the job. We knew what the building was and there were no curve balls.

“We knew exactly what to expect and tackled the issues that we faced on site. Everybody’s happy and that’s what matters!”

Kit list

Audio

Biamp SCX 400 conference room hub, Tesira AMP-450P amplifiers, TCM-X pendant microphones

Extron SF 26PT loudspeakers

Renkus-Heinz CA121-A loudspeakers

Shure MXW2/ BETA58 microphones

Video

Brightsign HD224/ XT1144 media players

Chief XSM1U mounts

Dten D7 displays ELo E628053 displays

LG UH5F-H displays

Logitech Tap IP touchpanels, Rally cameras

Neat Bar Pro

Control

Barco E2 Gen2 processors Crestron

TSW-1070 touchpanels, RMC4 processors

Middle Atlantic racks

Raritan power distribution modules

ZeeVee Zypher UHD encoders/ decoders


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