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A cutting-edge student recreation facility at the University of California, Riverside has a digital signage centerpiece to create a modern customer experience for today’s always-plugged-in college students.

The university renovated and expanded its student rec center, creating a 155,000-square-foot, LEED Gold-certified and American Institute of Architects award-winning facility on the campus in Riverside, California.

But the university needed to find a way to showcase school events, share news, stream sports games, and more in a visually appealing, high-tech format, in line with the aesthetic of the brand new, state-of-the-art center, according to a case study from project participant Peerless-AV.

So in addition to the 237,000-gallon swimming pool and 32-foot rock-climbing wall and bouldering area, the rec center now features a 28-by-17-foot video wall showing national and school sporting events, relevant information and signage, and up to 16 CATV channels.

“My favorite part of our new rec center is the 28-foot-by-17-foot giant video wall we constructed,” UC Riverside Recreation Director Lindy Fenex told CannonDesign, the firm that designed and oversaw the overall expansion and renovation of the rec center. “It dominates the visual landscape when you come into the building and is just incredibly impressive.”

UC Riverside worked with High-Tech Electric in Clovis, California, to install the video wall, which incorporated elements from Barco displays to Gefen fiber optic video extenders to Peerless-AV Video wall mounts, all from Almo Professional A/V.

High-Tech Electric’s solution was a seven-by-seven display, 28.5-foot video wall, consisting of 49 Barco 55-inch LCD displays; aligned and hung using Peerless-AV thin video wall mounts with quick release; driven by Barco remote power supplies and 16 Gefen DisplayPort over fiber optic extenders for 4K; with solutions from Commscope and Cisco for connectivity and networking the 18 HD Sources to 30-plus custom configured layouts; from 16 Contemporary Research HD Tuners; one Panasonic Blu-ray player; and one UCR Dell PC for digital signage. and Peerless-AV recently hosted a webinar case study on the project, with expert commentary from James Gulke, director of operations for High-Tech Electric; Brian McClimans, vice president of global business development for Peerless-AV; and Brian Rhatigan, director of business development for Almo Pro A/V. In the webinar, the trio looked at common challenges involved in video wall installations, from designing for proper ventilation and airflow and for sufficient structural support, to the testing, certification and documentation needed for commissioning and sign-off, to planning for post-installation services with access to displays and maintenance needs.

“Anybody who has been in this space, or really any space, has seen a large increase [in the number] of video walls in almost every application, from retail to banks to control centers … to the education sector,” McClimans said in the webinar.

The webinar then covered the installation of the UC Riverside video wall itself, with a detailed look at what went in to the deployment, such as working on a video wall with a bottom starting at 13 feet above the floor and reaching a peak height of 40 feet, and installing new dedicated EMT conduits from behind the video wall to AV Cabinets for remote low-voltage power, data and AV transport. (Download the free, on-demand version of the webinar, “Creating a State-of-the-Art Video Wall: A case study from UC Riverside,” here.)

“UCR wanted an LCD video wall that encourages student participation while they utilize the Student Recreation Center’s all-new fitness room, rock climbing wall, swimming pool and basketball court,” Gulke said in a case study from Gefen. “I knew that fiber-based signal extenders were an absolute necessity for the video wall to effectively stream content from multiple sources.”

Today, the video wall serves more than 21,000 students at UC Riverside on a daily basis — and all in 13K resolution — according to Peerless-AV.

“When I reflect on the amount of technology that went into our expansion project, I am literally astounded,” Fenex told CannonDesign. “College students today are so adept at the use of technology, and their expectations on how it should serve their needs is an important trend we need to follow. Recreation center infrastructures will need to build in the necessary capacity for switches, cabling, raceways, wireless connectivity, etc. to meet this type of demand.”

“This project consisted of so many industry firsts,” Gulke said in the Peerless-AV case study. “It was exciting to make it all happen, but that’s what you have to do to get the latest and greatest.”

(Header image courtesy of Gefen. Middle two images courtesy of Peerless-AV.)

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