The land on which Philadelphia public broadcaster WHYY built its new Dorrance H. Hamilton Public Media Commons used to be a parking lot. Now the first thing you see when you approach the 8,000-square-foot annex on Independence Mall is a bright, dynamic 25-by-68-foot LED display wall, a harbinger of the high technology inside.
WHYY’s vision for the Media Commons was to build a place where the public could learn about, create, and enjoy the latest forms of digital media, whether in community classrooms, fully functional edit and production rooms, or the Media Commons’ own Lincoln Financial Digital Education Studio. The studio is the building’s crown jewel, a flexible, multifunctional space designed to host presentations, live broadcasts, performances, classes, or community events. AV consultant and Spotlight Award winner RJC Designs determined early that the studio would need a pair of audio systems—one for speech reinforcement during classes and events, and another for surround-sound and other program audio when the studio is used for presentations and to show movies.
The surround-sound design presented a special problem. Due to the way the studio was built, there was no room to install a center-channel speaker above the 16-by-9-foot rear-projection screen. So RJC Designs worked with loudspeaker manufacturer Community Professional Loudspeakers to come up with a wide-dispersion center-channel loudspeaker that could hang from the studio’s lighting grid, about 4 feet in front of of the screen. RJC Designs also used the lighting grid to hold the room’s 12 speech-reinforcement speakers, which point down at the audience and can be controlled from an AMX touch panel to provide just the right audio coverage. Today, with high-speed connection points along all four walls of the studio, WHYY can host just about any function, including its on high-definition broadcasts.