"visualization room" called best in nation
builds "fantastic tool" for engineering meetings
Its hard tile floor and dual multiscan projectors tell
the story: this is a room for engineers, not board members, built for
pounding out ideas, not for delivering finished presentations to VIPs.
Yet its innovation and power
led the editors of Presentations and Training magazines to choose the
room and its a/v system as a winner of one of their joint "Best
Presentation Rooms" awards for 1996, published in both magazines
This cutting-edge facility
has much of the feel of the Case Technology Center that houses it. An
unobtrusive building blending in with the factories of Chicagos
western suburban technology corridor, the Center is the heart of the
firms new product development. This is the place where all new
Case agricultural and construction equipment is developed, from concept
to prototype. And this is a place where a new meeting facility must
be able to handle the subtleties of a CAD drawing as well as the dirt
and grime coming from the Centers nearby metal and wood shops;
the impact of a pc-based multimedia presentation as well as the impact
of a prototype tractor or backhoe driven into the room for a hands-on
The need for the facility
The original concept behind the meeting room project, according to Dennis
Huey, the Case engineer most involved in its a/v systems planning,
was to create "a visualization room." It would be a place
where large groups of engineers could get together and discuss a project
or problem while looking at CAD drawings. "When youre having
a project meeting," says Huey, "normally youve got a
group of guys around a table, and theyll look at a drawing and
spread out a bill of material, a spec sheet, and some detail drawings.
Theyll be looking at two or three things at one time when they
have to make a decision."
The problem Case had was how to spread
out those two or three drawings, when the group needing to look at
them was growing ever larger. The Technology Center employs 600 people,
nearly all engineers. "We had a cost center managers meeting
Friday," says Huey. "We had seating for 80." There
are weekly and monthly product review meetings, product planning meetings,
and other engineering meetings where groups of 20 to 100 people are
the norm. The solution Case found, with the help of United Visual,
was to install two high-resolution Sony projectors side by side and
project those drawings large enough for all to see. Of course, the
capacity they gained goes beyond spreading drawings on a table. "They
had a 3D drawing up there last week," continues Huey, "rotating,
moving into the parts assemblies, while on the other screen the presenter
had a PowerPoint presentation going, explaining the drawing that everyone
Visualization was not,
however, to be the only purpose of the room. Case needed as flexible
a space as possible. "We can bring marketing people in, customers
in, and other Case employees in," says Huey. While the room was
built primarily for engineering meetings, "we bring dealers,
and sometimes their customers, into the building to introduce them
to new concepts. We also do a lot of in-house tours for our own employees
who have never been to this location."
"The space is large
enough," says Huey, "that we can bring product into the
room while projecting video or a PowerPoint presentation, as well
as CAD drawings." The photos here show the room set up for Microsoft
Project training on PCs, but staff are accustomed to moving tables,
chairs and equipment in and out of the room as needed. A movable wall
can double the rooms normal 50 X 40 dimensions for
larger meetings, breakouts, or to accommodate a tractor or two.
The planning process
The Technology Centers
meeting room has been in use for many years, but until this winter
had no permanently installed systems. "We began using it as a
training area maybe 15 years ago," says Huey, " but it was
very crude. At that time it was just brick walls in there and bare
I-beams. We rented projection systems, but we never really thought
we could justify the cost of putting in our own." That feeling
changed as management began to realize the productivity gains that
could be made with the dual projection system.
Once the decision was made
to go forward, a large number of Case employees began offering ideas
and suggestions. Tammy Bonnell, Facilities Project Manager at Case,
did most of the engineering, working closely with Uniteds Rick
Nelson. The work itself went rapidlythe room was closed for
just two months for installation of new walls, ceilings, lighting,
HVAC, and of course the a/v systems. Case staff give United high marks
for their work during this critical time. "What well do,"
says Huey, "is develop a relationship with a vendor and work
with him over a long time frame. Rick has always been good to us,
especially with this installation. Hes always there when we
The first meeting was held
January 19, with painters tarps and ladders as a backdrop.
The final result is stunning.
The room has a very clean, spacious feel and is extremely flexible.
Though the decor is austere, the acoustics are clear, thanks to a
soft fabric treatment on the walls. A control center in the back makes
it easy for a staff member to bring up drawings or visuals at the
presenters request, but a presenter can run all a/v, lighting
and sound functions from the front of the room as well.
This functionality, and
the uniqueness of the design, is what convinced the Presentations
and Training editors to choose the facility as one of the nations
ten best for 1996.
"You can just imagine,"
comments Huey, "how our engineers and trainers would react to
something like this. The room is a fantastic tool for anyone trying
to run a meeting."