Originally published in Interiors & Sources

07/01/2008

Sky Blue Underground

New theater makes headquarters a memorable place

 

Backlit polycarbonate wall panels and cobalt blue-painted gypsum line the theater's side walls, which are just off parallel to improve sound quality in the space. Subwoofers are located below the seats. (larger image)

Blue Room Theater at Chesapeake Energy

BEST UNDER $1 MILLION

LOCATION: Oklahoma City, OK

AV BUDGET: Under $1 Million

AWARD WINNERS:

  • Elliott + Associates Achitects
  • AVD Audio\Video Designs Inc.

Webinar: Aug. 20

Quotes form the Judges:

"It's one of those projects that you don't really see a distinction between where architecture starts and technology ends, or vice versa. This is a space that you can either go there and look at whatever is there, or you can go there and enjoy what's happening to you."

"It's so unusual and so well presented. If you're talking about architecture and AV integration, this is a perfect example."

Product List: The Blue Room:

  • Altinex DA-1506, VGA distribution amplifier
  • AMX MVP-8400, 8.4-inch Modero ViewPoint touch panel; MVP-TDS, top docking station, NI-4100, NetLinx® integrated controller; NXA-WAP250G, 802.11g wireless access point; PSN2.8, 12VDC, 2.8A power supply (NetLinx)
  • Architectural Acoustics Digitool MX, 5.1 processor; UMA-1502, mixer/amplifier
  • Atlas FAP-82T speaker enclosure, 200 Series equipment rack, FAP-82TR mount ring
  • AVD SB-10 subwoofer speaker enclosure
  • Biamp Systems 801 mic/line mixer
  • Christie projector lens, 1.4-1.8:1 HD, Roadster HD-12k DLP projector, 1080p
  • CHYTV Plus NTSC, video messaging processor
  • Denon DN-7100 AV surround processor/preamplifier, DNV-300, DVD player, universal player
  • Draper SL6, video projector lift
  • Edirol V-440HD video mixer
  • Electrograph PDS Eztouch - touchscreen panel overlay UPF M60 plasma mounts
  • Extron Crosspoint 450-1616 HVA; DVI-201 DVI/HDMI extender, MGP 462 dual window multi-graphic processor
  • Lectrosonics UT700 handheld transmitter, M152/700 SP Mic. Lav. 5-PIN f/UM700, RMP200-2 mounting bracket for UDR700, SNA600 antenna, UDR700, wireless receiver, UM700 belt pack transmitter, UMC16B - rf and antenna distribution
  • Pioneer PDA-5003 video card, PDP-425CMX 42-inch plasma display
  • QSC CX-254, CX-302, and PLX-3402 power amplifiers
  • Raxxess ROTR-14 equipment rack
  • RGB Spectrum SuperView 4000-6/6 multi-input, multi-window display processor
  • Sennheiser MCH-40 podium microphone goose neck, ME36 shotgun modular podium microphone element
  • SLS Audio PRD500, two-way enclosure, US218SW subwoofer, US2413ST speaker enclosure
  • Sony BDP-S2000ES Blu-Ray player
  • Stewart Screen AT3, 17-foot-10-inch by 31-foot-6-inch (3-foot, 2 ½ -inch diagonal)
  • Surgex SX-1120RT, 20a, SX-115, SX2120-Seq, 20a
  • Vaddio camera mount; Canon® VC-C50i PTZ ProductionView camera mixer Quick Connect, camera interface

Want to learn more about this project? Watch the webinar on August 20. Go to the AV Awards page to register today. This event is free.

By C.C. Sullivan

In the pursuit of creativity and bringing his company to the forefront of technology, Aubrey McClendon saw blue. The color represented clear skies ahead and the blue flame of natural gas, the source of his company's wealth. McClendon is CEO of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. It also signified the importance of a new meeting space added as an afterthought to the sub-basement of the company's new, five-story headquarters facility.

With the help of a favored architect and a team of engineers and audiovisual experts, McClendon created what would become known as the Blue Room Theater.

Part human resources tool, part conference facility, and part recreation room, the cobalt-walled meeting space serves McClendon's desire to project a strong, dynamic image for Chesapeake Energy, helping to attract the next generation of business and scientific experts so critical to his company's success. "One thing very high on Aubrey McClendon's list is recruiting," explains Rand Elliott, principal of Elliott + Associates Architects, Oklahoma City. "It's important to him to encourage and excite people as to what the company is all about."

Improvisation and flexibility were key to bringing McClendon's vision to life. The project team had already completed construction documents for the headquarters office building when the directive came in: Add a big meeting space to the program.

And not just any old meeting room: The Blue Room Theater, featuring leading-edge multimedia technology and theatrical systems, produces a memorable sensory experience by means of blue ambient lighting and backlit polycarbonate sidewalls. "The room literally glows," says Elliott. "There are many lighting scenes which give the room multiple personalities: scenes for showing movies, for educational purposes, and for videoconferencing and teleconferencing," as well as visitor lectures and after-hours employee programs.

The overarching aim of the Blue Room Theater, however, is to relax its occupants while impressing them with the sophistication of the sub-basement space.


A variety of lighting scenes and media technologies lend flexibility—and multiple personalities—to the small theater, which hosts movies, lectures, training sessions, and videoconference and teleconference meetings. (larger image)

Carving Out a Space—and a Budget
Working with a budget of just under $1 million, the project team first addressed how to carve out a double-height space from the planned cast-in-place concrete frame by adding large steel transfer beams just below the first-floor level and excavating outward under the corporate campus lawns, says Bill Yen, senior associate with Elliott + Associates. "One of the transfer beams runs down the middle of the space, so the projector system actually had to be installed off-center," says Yen. "And to improve the acoustics, the side walls are not really parallel, though they appear to be."

Another acoustical challenge was dealing with the hard polycarbonate and gypsum walls enclosing the theater. The interiors concept is suggestive of the geological formations that Chesapeake Energy's scientists study every day, and the installation demanded close attention to such effects as reverberation and echo. "We used a computer model to study the room, and we focused primarily on the ceiling and back wall designs," says Walid Tikriti, the acoustical consultant with Acoustonica LLC, Dallas. A blue carpet and other soft surfaces help improve the dynamics.

The resulting space is remarkably quiet, thanks in part to a simple but virtually noiseless cooling system using CO2 sensors to monitor demand. "The system is designed to handle varying occupant loads, and they can just go in and just have an event without having to precool the space," says Brian Determan, principal and mechanical engineer with Determan Scheirman Engineering, Oklahoma City. Though the sub-basement location is ideal for maintaining ambient temperatures, it also created challenges in terms of routing ductwork and for supply and return air. "A bit of the return air comes through the side lighting panels, and the bulk of return air is taken up right near the stage, so we are supplying high and returning low," he adds.


The creation of the Blue Room Theater at Chesapeake was driven by a desire to be at the forefront of technology. The 3-year design and development process culminated with a high-end, cutting-edge facility. (larger image)

Diversity of Uses
Further challenging the budget and the team's integration abilities was the desire for a diverse schedule of uses for the Blue Room. In addition to the implied functionality, McClendon and Elliott both envisioned a room in which all the audiovisual technology would be hidden—in the architect's words, with "no funky gizmos on the ceiling."

"The thing that makes the project challenging is integrating the technology so that no one will notice," says Rob Rogers, principal of AVD Audio\Video Designs Inc., Moore, OK. Rogers sourced recessed speakers, which included subwoofers under chairs, large speakers behind the perforated main display screen, and distributed public-address speakers in coves detailed throughout the Blue Room.

Another big hurdle for Rogers's team was finding a multiple-input display system that could support the required range of signals and flawlessly integrate and switch between sources—all with first-rate display quality. Working with videographic designer RGB Spectrum, Rogers specified a multimedia display processor that could show up to 12 separate images on the same screen from as many as 36 switched inputs, including basic business presentations, spreadsheets, and engineering drawings.


Flatscreen displays and polycarbonate-clad columns flank the super-mod entrance to the Blue Room Theater. The design of the multimedia space, added as an afterthought to a corporate headquarters building, is meant to relax occupants and suggest cool sophistication and intrigue. (larger image)

An energy-efficient, mood-altering lighting system—designed with Smith Lighting, Oklahoma City—lends the space its cosmopolitan, distinctive ambience. Simple fluorescent fixtures on dimmers illuminate the polycarbonate side walls, and color-changing LEDs cast a glow from acoustical acrylic panels at the stage and the back wall. Overhead, blue and white low-voltage track lights add a visible sparkle to various lighting presets.

Despite the challenges of constrained budget, space, and scheduling in the construction process, careful team coordination and frequent communications helped pave a smooth road to completion.

"Literally, the building was under construction when we did this project. The architectural concept came first, but then we immediately brought in Rob [Rogers] and asked him what do we have to do to accomplish these things," says Elliott. "The Blue Room was one of the surprise projects for us. And now people who enter this subterranean environment are completely taken aback, too."

C.C. Sullivan (chris@ccsullivan.com) is an author and communications consultant specializing in design and construction.

Want to learn more about this project? Watch the webinar on August 20. Go to the AV Awards page to register today. This event is free.

 


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Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.

Yaskawa drives offer quality performance for air handlers and cooling towers on the roof to secondary chilled water pumps in the basement

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.


 
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