April 2016: (Plenty of) Time is the Charm

Like the building of Rome, designing outstanding Audio-Visual (AV) systems does not happen in a day.  Only an investment in time and coordination will lead to a well-designed system that meets the client’s expectations both in terms of performance and budget.  For the project to go smoothly there needs to be communication with other design consultants involved to optimize results and minimize issues during construction.  Read on to learn more about the planning and coordination process involved in creating exceptional AV systems.

The Schematic Design phase is the ideal time to bring the AV consultant into the project.  This is an important phase for the AV design, as it is when the consultant can communicate with the client to determine the needs for each space.  Various system design ideas are discussed and ultimately confirmed that they meet the needs of the facility in terms of both functionality and budget.  A programming report is generated to memorialize the preliminary design intent and budget.  This process typically takes between 2-4 months for larger projects, and 1-2 months for smaller projects.

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Projector hidden and integrated within architectural elements. Lincoln Hall – Union League of Philadelphia

Coordination with other design consultants is the primary goal during the Design Development phase. The AV design consultants will use the project drawings to create a coordination document set showing all power and conduit requirements and locations needed for operation of the AV equipment.  This drawing set will be delivered to the electrical engineers so that these requirements can be incorporated into their documentation to be installed during construction by the electrical contractors.  The AV consultant will also assure that heat loads and weight loads required by system equipment are coordinated with mechanical and structural engineers. Location and aesthetics of displays, speakers, projection equipment, microphones, and other visible items are coordinated with the architects so that all AV hardware is thoughtfully integrated into the building.


Loudspeaker installation color coordinated with interior finishes.
Temple Adath Israel, Merion Station, PA

The Construction Documents phase of the project is typically when the AV consultant documents the system, which includes AV equipment device locations, sections and elevations, mounting details, functional line drawings, equipment rack elevations, and plate and panel details.  The AV consultant will also prepare a written specification further detailing the installation requirements for the contractor who is awarded the project.  The whole design process including Design Development and Construction Documents phases typically takes between 12-24 months for larger projects and 3-6 months for smaller projects.

During Construction Administration, the AV consultant will be available to respond to RFI’s and review contractor submittals as needed.  Once the installation of the AV systems has been completed, the consultant will visit the site to create a punch-list of any AV installation or operational deficiencies to be addressed before system completion can be certified.

In order to have a fully realized final product, a fully realized process is required.  The AV design consultant needs be involved at all steps of the design process in order to deliver a well-integrated, functional product that meets the client’s expectations.

Speakers and projector hidden in ceiling in Putman Pavilion.
Putman Pavilion Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA
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