HB Transforms Meeting Spaces into 21st Century Technological Showpiece
With a rich history in Japanese tradition, the Mitsubishi Corporation is one of the most venerated names in global industry. Their United States headquarters, located in the heart of Mid-town Manhattan, was in need of a design and technology update. The project was awarded to HB based on a combination of company credentials, quality of our response and value.
The existing space had a large, multi-purpose room that functioned as a general meeting space as well as the company’s boardroom. A few smaller conference rooms surrounded the larger space. Technology in these spaces consisted of a few disparate pieces of analog equipment that had long since served its purpose. The lack of sophisticated technology did not adequately reflect the company’s image as a leader in the many technologically advanced fields that they serve.
The Company’s Board of Directors meet regularly with some members attending remotely. The presentations at these meetings typically consist of visual data, video, audio content and participation by remote attendees. The biggest challenge to the design team was how to comfortably seat over 21 Board members, guests, presenters and staff while allowing everyone to see and hear the information being presented. With a 50' long table that seats over 44 people and limited by a ceiling height of less than 9', it was very clear that it would be impossible to install a screen large enough to provide high quality visual images to everyone seated at the table. Add to that the challenge that there be no
“bad” seats, the design team needed an ingenious solution. The answer was to put a display in front of each participant. Arthur Holm Inc. provided the solution with their Dynamic display and microphone table lift. HB installed 22 units that each hold a 21" LCD, a microphone and control buttons that descend into the table when not in use. With the touch of a single button on the Crestron control panel, the Dynamic units rise up in a smooth, synchronized motion, then turn on and tilt to the correct viewing angle. Needless to say, the coordination with the custom table manufacturer had to be very detailed and precise. HB’s team spent many hours working out placement, tolerances, cabling and all the other details involved in building a table that size which contained a great deal of sophisticated technology.
Another major challenge the design team faced was how to get that many people into a video conference without making everyone look like a small dot on the screen. Seven pan/tilt/zoom cameras were strategically placed around the room, each with pre-programmed presets that are activated when one of the 22 “Look at Me” buttons on the table are depressed. HB programmers calculated which of the camera would provide the best shot, with a minimum of camera movement and fit that into the control code.
Working with the project team, HB created a conference center for Mitsubishi International that gave management the perfect platform to communicate with each other and share information in ways that weren’t possible before. The spaces created encourage the exchange of data, information and ideas in a seamless, collaborative manner. For the first time, participants within the room or anywhere in the world, could be part of this exchange and contribute rather than being relegated to a silent observer. Colleagues, employees, vendors and consultants can all be joined into one collaborative experience.
The control room adjacent to the Boardroom is fitted with a one way mirror which permits technical support personnel to see into the Boardroom to confirm that all systems are functioning. A number of back-up systems provide a seamless cut-over, should a technical failure occur. Smaller conference rooms complete the space, each fitted with similar yet less sophisticated technology. These rooms can serve as overflow spaces. A digital signage system was also provided by HB to help direct people to appropriate meeting rooms as well as providing timely delivery of important messages.
Perhaps Jay Feliciano said it best when summing up the new space and how it was received by Mitsubishi’s Management Team, “We knew we’d succeeded when all of the people seated in the room, including the CEO, broke into spontaneous applause as the equipment rose out of the table and settled into position.” Jay went on to commend the entire team that had worked so hard, often late into the night, to achieve the level of success that was so evident. Those successes were attributed to the workflow meetings that were held early in the project where important issues were resolved long before equipment was installed.
The team was up against some very hard deadlines that revolved around major meetings that had been scheduled months in advance and required lots of international travel by attendees. “We were given the time we needed to succeed and that made all the difference,” Jay commented. “We had access to decision makers and an extremely cooperative group representing the owner. The process went very smoothly.”