- Fourteen years after the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco closed cigarette Factory #12 in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C., Forsyth County transformed the old building into its new government offices through an "adaptive reuse project". After selective demolition, the construction phase began in May 2001 and completed during the summer of 2003. The new Government Center contains a 280-space parking deck and 244,000 total square feet of office/common space, enough to hold 272 assigned county employees.
- In 1990, Forsyth County acquired from R.J Reynolds Tobacco Company four blocks of property that included the Factory #12 site. After considering several alternatives for the factory's use, the county decided to renovate and adapt the building to meet its growing administrative space needs.
- Out of this project, a new Forsyth County Commissioners Meeting Room was designed and integrated with the latest audio/video technology and AMX control. Since opening its doors in November 2003, the Forsyth County Government Center has given local residents and Board Members a better way to present and review information and materials, as well as to discuss and decide county-related matters.
Stop, Look & Listen
- The focal point of control is the County Commissioners Meeting Room. The space is approximately 45-feet wide and 60-feet long with a 125 audience-member capacity. It also includes a separate video control room, located in an adjacent room. This extremely user-friendly AMX-automated meeting environment enhances the delivery of stats, figures, photos and video to support a variety of private and public issues at hand. Key points are shared in a seamless manner and clear enough for everyone to see and hear, all at the touch of a button.
- "The Board of Commissioners wanted to incorporate the latest technology that would benefit their presentations, as well as generate quality video and audio for the local government channel," said Shawn Blankemeyer of OneSource Building Technologies (OSBT) of Winston-Salem, N.C., the AMX Dealer who spearheaded the design, integration and support of the installation. "This was the time to do it. They had achieved a first-class facility, so it required first-class presentation and control technology. The project called for a state-of-the-art system that would last."
Designing a Vision
- OSBT joined the project as an audio / video consultant with Ersoy & Associates, a private architect firm located in Winston-Salem. OSBT provided professional input and advice regarding room layout and ceiling height requirements to accommodate the specified electronic equipment (specifically drop-down projection screens), and the proposed integrated systems capabilities and functions desired in the County Commissioners Meeting Room.
- "They never really had any true A/V presentation capabilities in the previous building," Blankemeyer said. "It was limited to an overhead projector, a lower-grade sound system, and an outdated camera system, a setup in place for about 25 years."
AMX in the Middle
- The systems now in place at the County Commissioners Meeting Room comprise two parts: an audio / video presentation system and a broadcast video system. The core of both are centered on AMX technology that includes the NI-3000 Controller, an AXT-CA10 10" Touch Panel, the PosiTrack Pilot Video Touch Panel and PosiTrack 15 Camera Controller. AMX integrates and automates two 6-foot-by-8-foot ceiling mounted projection screens, two 3000 lumen projectors and full source switching over five computer inputs, a document camera, DVD and VCR players, a tuner, room lighting and video lighting.
Clerk in Charge
- Jane Cole, Clerk to the Comissioners Board, assumes total control of the room and meetings. Seated to the left of the seven Board Members and County Manager, across a raised seating platform called a "dais," Mrs. Cole readily navigates the AXT-CA10 10" Touch Panel. At the touch of a button, she can power on the system, activate room and video lighting, record and archive meeting minutes digitally, and switch the computer and video inputs to display the sources to each County Commissioner on 18" LCD monitors as well as the primary audience screens. System training was conducted during one dedicated training class and supervision during three "live" meetings.
- "The county mastered the Touch Panel and system usage very quickly", said Blankemeyer. "The Touch Panel was well designed and is user friendly. So far everything has gone well. The County and the Board of Commissioners are pleased."
Power to the People
- Most county-related issues come from county employees and residents, who now have the opportunity to incorporate all sorts of media such as pictures, photos and specification drawings into their presentations. The central podium contains a gooseneck microphone, document camera, a single computer input and built-in DVD and VCR players.
- "This has done wonders for the county employees and residents who are trying to make a point through their presentations," Blankemeyer said. "With all this technology in the podium, the presenters can state their case and provide the necessary materials to support their viewpoint. It aids the Commissioners in making better, more informed decisions in all points of county government."
- Weekly briefings in the County Commissioners Meeting Room can be televised live to a dedicated local government cable channel. Each session is also recorded to tape for replay on the same channel at a later date. County Commissioners wanted to ensure that Forsyth County residents had remote access to watch broadcasted meetings, especially if they were unable to attend. This ongoing video production relies heavily upon AMX, which is designed to control four wall-mounted cameras and relay the video images to the adjacent control room. The video production staff has the ability, through the AXP-PLV Positrack Pilot Controller, to control the functions for the three cameras that cover the Commissioners and the one directed at the public podium. The PosiTrack Pilot allows the video staff to quickly pan, tilt and zoom in using any of the cameras.
- "One of the primary reasons for integrating the Positrack Pilot Controller was for its ability to control RS-232 camera functions of the Hitachi HVD15 cameras. It eliminated the need for separate camera control units for each camera and it actually saved money," Blankemeyer said.
- With the impressive amount of technology already in use, the County Commissioners Meeting Room will always be ready to handle future expandability, thanks to AMX and the NI-3000 Controller. Whether the purpose is to remain up-to-date on the latest electronics or to better meet the presentation needs of the Board and local residents, the NI-3000 is engineered to maximize the county's return on investment.
- "Originally, we designed the system based on the Axcent3 controller, but immediately switched to the NI-3000 when it came out," Blankemeyer said. "The commissioners wanted to remain current on the newest technology plus there are plans to possibly incorporate Voting System software at a later date. The County loved having this kind of upward migration."