by Corey Salvatore
We’ve all had the experience of walking into buildings with an expansive entrance, or atrium. Stepping into a well-designed one can leave visitors feeling welcome, while others can do the exact opposite. Stark, ill-equipped atria can leave visitors lost and even intimidated by their surroundings. So what do you put in this space to make it as useful as possible? A growing trend involves integrating large visual displays boasting vibrant and dynamic graphics into entryway architecture.
But, seamlessly blending high-tech features with the flow of a structure requires some finesse — and not just in terms of physical installation. More importantly, you have to consider the content that is going to be shown on this media wall system.
Will it have interactive components? What about wayfinding? A building/personnel directory? Or even a resource center?
Will branding need to be showcased? Do you have in-house developers to create such content, or will it be outsourced to a third party?
Looking at what you want to accomplish helps you figure out how to get there. Taking a simple step back to meditate on simple questions can determine the difference between making a wise investment in technology and wasting a boatload of money.
After pausing to determine your AV goals, the next step — wall installation — poses a different set of challenges. Basic specifications, like the overall size and weight of the displays need to be addressed when designing structural support. And other, more specific, decisions come into play. Different types of available technologies, each with its own idiosyncrasies in power requirements, have associated heat offsets to account for. The content delivery method to the displays themselves is not cut and dry, either. Plus, they are in public areas. Where should they be located? Not just in a way that makes them easy to view, but also to keep them from being inadvertently damaged from passers-by. Students with bulky backpacks, children who are attracted to screens like moths to a flame, corporate bigwigs distracted by an email on their phone. . . . Who is passing through your atrium depends on why they are there in the first place.
If these factors start to feel overwhelming, remember to keep your ultimate goal in mind: Engage your visitors and/or staff with their surroundings. Sure, there is a lot that goes into doing it right, but the payoff is worth it.
Corey Salvatore is a senior consultant at Acentech, Inc. in Cambridge, Mass.