State-of-the-art education hub that fosters advanced learning

Glasgow, Scotland

The challenge

Named in honour of James McCune Smith, a University of Glasgow alumnus who became the first African American in the world to receive a medical degree, the construction work on the £90.6m building started at the end of October 2017, and opened in April 2021. This development provides a creative environment, combining flexible study and social learning space with multi-styled and technology-enabled teaching.

The project was in the planning phase for over five years and would come to involve several client meetings and produced sequences of CAD designs and optical calculations, eventually transitioning to the Kinly project team once under contract. The AV IT Services Manager was tasked with creating a world-class venue from this new building, not only to provide leading edge teaching and learning experiences, but also to be able to deliver exceptional experiences for their planned international conferences and events. A supporter of AVIXA’s AV standards, the team used them as the basis for creating the project specifications with which Kinly developed further.

“The complex AV design and delivery by Kinly in this project has been instrumental in giving our undergraduate and postgraduate students access to advanced learning spaces - providing a creative environment, combining flexible study and social learning spaces with multi-styled and technology-enabled teaching.”

Joe Tinkler
Audio Visual Technology Manager
Learning Spaces AV Team
University of Glasgow

The solution

Kinly was responsible for the design and installation of complex AV in the following learning spaces:

• 6 lecture theatres
• 2 video walls in entrance area (5184 x 2880mm)
• Digital signage throughout the building
• 5 study pods

The project team faced stern challenges in the two main conjoined spaces: adjacent auditoria to be used as a single space, or separated into two spaces with a retractable dividing wall. These spaces were made complex by their shape and the seating plans - including the ability to collaborate with students in the row behind. Glasgow’s AVIT team produced displays plans based on AVIXA’s DISCAS standard – both for image size and viewing angles. This led to a complex design of multiple screens.

Kinly, working with standards-experts, Visual Displays, produced display specifications based on their deliverable performance to ensure conformance in excess of required standards.

The centrepiece of the main auditoria are two giant 6.2m wide 4K UHD displays. The initial assumption was that dvLED displays would be needed. But by using the AVIXA PISCR standard it was calculated that the most suitable displays would be ALR (ambient light rejecting) projection screens, specifically dnp’s Supernova 08-85 material.

These giant displays are positioned at high level to address the main and rear parts of the spaces. Additional large screen displays were carefully designed to ensure every participant has an exceptional viewing experience, using 100” and 120” Complete Laser Displays (CLD). The CLD range by Visual Displays are standards-curated bundles of Epson laser projectors, ALR (ambient light rejecting) dnp Supernova projection screens and mounts.

Careful consideration within the planning process was given to environmental and ergonomic issues, driven by the WELL Building Standard and CIBSE lighting and environmental standards. By using projection rather than dvLED, over the lifetime of the installation, kilowatts of power will be saved in addition to expensive heat management. The projection screens can be used indefinitely as projectors are upgraded over the coming decades.

Not only do these spaces give a visually stunning experience but they are designed and deployed in a dual tech way that combines new AV over IP technology with standard tried and tested XTP backbone also. The current spaces are 4K but are future-proofed and upgradeable to 8K in the future.

These are also hybrid learning spaces with video and audio enabled so that Micorsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco Webex and more can be utilised for remote participants (via Extron MediaPort) and content from each space can be also be broadcast to other spaces, helping to support social distancing demands in the short term.

The result

The building can accommodate more than 2,500 students, and includes a flagship lecture theatre with capacity for 500 students. Interactive teaching spaces range in capacity from 340 – 75 students, while the hub can also accommodate a number of seminar/group study spaces.

The James McCune Smith Learning Hub has only been open for a few months now with access initially restricted in line with Scottish Government Covid-19 guidance so the full extent of the UX impact has yet to be realised or assessed. However, the ability to deliver individualised teaching with tailored content on every screen is set to transform the student experience as we emerge from the pandemic.

Construction of the James McCune Smith Learning Hub is shown to have generated over £135 million-worth of total social and economic impacts. The project generated investment of £73 million in the local economy, which includes the economic benefits for local supply chains and companies that service the site.

Want to get in touch?

Our team are real experts in their field and always have your best interests in mind. They’ll be able to answer any question which might spring to mind at any stage in your relationship with Kinly. So if you’ve got questions already, just get in touch today.

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