The Mount Vernon SchoolAtlanta, Georgia

Project Overview

Audio, Video, Theatrical Lighting, | AVL Design and Build

Budget: $600,000

Services: Audio, video, and theatrical lighting integration; infrastructure design; systems design and integration; distributed audio; future infrastructure planning.

Executive Summary

The Mount Vernon School Upper School Building

The Mount Vernon School, located in Sandy Springs, is a leading Preschool – Grade 12 school known for its innovative teaching methods and spatial strategies. The School leverages technology and human-centered design to advance its mission to challenge students to design a better world today.

Pendley Productions has been a partner with Mount Vernon since 2015. During this long standing relationship we have worked with the school create and implement a master plan for audio, video, and lighting integration for its Upper Campus facilities. Notably, the Mount Vernon School chose Pendley Productions to be its integration specialist for the construction of the new Upper School building which opened in 2019.

In 2017, the school launched Pioneer Tomorrow a 14 million dollar campaign to construct this truly innovative building for the next generation of leaders. Planning for innovation, Pendley Productions deployed theatrical lighting and audio systems for its 200 seating black box theater, integrated audio through out the building with Q-Sys and Dante Networks, outdoor speakers, and dynamic video solutions including a suspended, nearly invisible, retractable projection screen located in the Café learning stair.

Integration Process

Discovery

The Mount Vernon School has been a partner with Pendley Productions since 2016. Our first collaboration was integrating a high-end speaker system for their multipurpose gym space. Since then, we have been their preferred vendor for integration and AVL purchases as systems need to be expanded. Pendley was at the table from the very beginning to help determine the scope, budget, and implementation of AVL solutions in the new Upper School building.

This 57,000 square foot facility has several presentation environments, which played to our companies expertise, while also including a unique set of challenges. The building is an exemplar of the School’s design principle: ‘learning demands interactive and flexible spaces.” Each floor, also called Districts, consists of two learning communities where students experience classrooms with walls the fold into the ceiling. Every community has a large community space for working groups or independently. Students spend more time networking with other students and classes, taking the reigns of their own learning, than sitting in rows and desks.

As a result, through the discovery process, Pendley quickly realized that this project would require an innovative distributed audio and video system that would support a continuously growing vision, events and conferences that could scale from a single classroom to the entire building, and an unmatched learning environment that prioritizes flexibility.  

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Design

From discovery to commissioning*, the overall project took just under a year. This was an incredible feat due to the scale and scope of the project. Our team broke the project down into three categories of focus to communicate the design deliverables.

Headend System

Pendley Productions would connect the entire building leveraging QSC Q-SYS and Dante networks. Throughout the building, 91 QSC two-way speakers would be integrated with 5 independent performance space audio and video systems using the Q-SYS Core 510 process to handle routing and processing. This would allow the School to have 24 independent audio zones that could be controlled using 10 Q-SYS touch screens accessible by faculty and students. The system would support ultimate flexibility during learning exhibitions, events, and day-to-day life at the school when audio or video might need to be leveraged in specific ways. The integration would also plan to scale the distribution to the entire Mount Vernon campus connecting the Middle School building, Athletic Center, competition facilities.

Performance Spaces

The School required the outfitting of 5 performance spaces that would be used daily.

Black Box Theater – A 200 seating auditorium that would allow for the School’s award-winning productions to scale with more dynamic and flexible technology. Pendley productions would design and install a theatrical pipe grid to support 20 moving light fixtures, 20 LED wash fixtures, 2 JCV PTZ cameras, 4 EAW MK2326i Loudspeakers, and a flown EAW Subwoofer. The whole system would be supported by an Allen & Heath SQ7 48 Channel Digital Console, ETC Lighting Console, and a Blackmagic ATEM Studio Pro HD Live Production Switcher.

Recording Studio – Mount Vernon would launch the Upper School with a vision to become the education leader in studio arts. The band and choral room would double as a 5 room recording studio equipped with a ProTools control surface and JBL studio monitors. Each practice room would be networked to provide isolation booths to record independent musicians simultaneously. The engineering room would integrate an overhead monitor display to mirror the control computer for effective teaching.

Band and Choral Studio – This large space would be acoustically treated, wired for recording input, and also support local playback. The audio system would eventually allow the conductor to capture practice audio with a Q-SYS Touch Screen through a ceiling-mounted DPA microphone. This room would be supported by (2) 12″ QSC Speakers.

Dance Studio – The Dance Studio would also be supported by (2) 12″ QSC Speakers, but would also include a pair of Shure Wireless Microphones for teaching. This space would also double as an event space. As a result, Pendley integrated the capability to tie in a sound mixer if more audio inputs should be needed. 

Café and Learning Stair – The lobby of the Upper School building would open to a massive staircase with exaggerated steps that double as seating. The School would use these stairs and the below Café space to host its students for breakfast and lunch. However, it would also use the space as a learning environment, presentation space, and a performance venue. The space was outfitted with an 18K M-Vision laser projector and a 164″ wide retractable Da-Light screen suspended by ultra-thin aircraft cable making it appear to be floating. 

Distributed Audio and Video

The Headend System would afford the entire building to be networked through Dante and Q-SYS Core. Schools have a unique need to make announcements throughout the day and perform regular emergency drills. Mount Vernon also wanted to have the ability to play music via bluetooth and networked solutions. The distributed audio system would be required to become the ‘Sonos’ for school buildings while also performing the functions of day-to-day school life. 

This is why Pendley chose Q-SYS as its backbone. Utilizing the touch screen controls throughout the school, faculty and staff can control where audio originates and where it is played back. Some control surfaces were given the ability to remote stop all audio incase of emergency. Other personnel have access to specialized screens that can trigger pre-recorded messages, class transition music, and control for master audio levels for each zone. 

Lastly, by implementing a 20×20 QSC video matrix the school can distribute video content to any performance location output should an event require it.

Implement

This integration challenged our team to push the edge between support and performance technology. The Mount Vernon School wanted high end performance facilities and flexible AV solutions that are rare to find in an education facility. 

The build-out for the building was an aggressive timeline, 13 months in total. The greatest challenge was working with an experienced achritectural team that built more traditional schools for their clients. Pendley often times had to become an advocate for the School’s vision as it was completely different than most engagments of this size. The School knew what they wanted and was heavily involved with every detail of the integration. 

The School was comissioned on-time with onsite training for key faculty and staff. 

Support

Our relationship with Mount Vernon has continued to thrive. Currently, Pendley provides on-site and remote support when new vision needs the solution to evolve. Originally, the school was not planning on having transition music or sounds, but eventually the staff found this necessary. Our team quickly implemented a system that gives leadership the ability to create playlists, schedule transitions, and manually trigger transitions when necessary.

Pendley Production is actively working with The Mount Vernon School to plan for a future expansion of the audio and video system for the rest of the Upper Campus. 

* ‘Commissioning’ is our term for deploying a turnkey solution. Our team promises a successful launch by being on site for the first use after installation. This includes a program for all volunteers and staff to received training from our skilled team of production professionals. We pride ourselves on making sure our systems operate flawlessly and are on-site at every launch event.

 

Technology Highlights

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What we do.

Pendley Productions is a design and systems integration firm, providing house of worship and corporate clients with industry leading performance technology solutions.

AVL Master planning

Our approach to system design is based on creating systems that meet long-term vision, and not just the immediate need. 

AVL Design and Build

For clients who are ready to start, or currently working on projects requiring audio, video, and lighting services.

System Tuning and Optimization

Our trained professionals optimize your system while creating an even, balanced sound for your audience.

Wireless Frequency Coordination

We ensure that your wireless technology is properly functioning, syncing correctly, and up to date. 

AVL Master planning

Our approach to system design is based on creating systems that meet long-term vision, and not just the immediate need. 

AVL Design and Build

For clients who are ready to start, or currently working on projects requiring audio, video, and lighting services.

System Tuning and Optimization

Our trained professionals optimize your system while creating an even, balanced sound for your audience.

Wireless Frequency Coordination

We ensure that your wireless technology is properly functioning, syncing correctly, and up to date. 

In an ever changing world of technology, integration solutions should be adaptible and flexiable to meet the needs of innovation.

Let’s Get Started

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