atmosphere, powerful system add up to national award
ACGME a winner in Best Presentation Rooms Competition
intimate rooms. The ideal for conferences as well as concerts. But how
do you achieve intimacy in a conference room built for thirty people?
That was the key design question
facing John Nylen, Chief Operating Officer for ACGME of Chicago, as
he considered plans for a new boardroom at the group’s Chicago headquarters.
room he built, with a presentation system from United Visual, was so
successful it was named among the nation’s best by Presentations
and Training Magazine, in their joint Best Presentation Rooms Competition
The work of the Council
ACGME, the Accreditation
Council for Graduate Medical Education, is the group responsible for
reviewing and accrediting educational institutions that train the nation’s
medical specialists. The work of ACGME is divided between 28 physician-based
specialty committees and a board of directors, all of whom are supported
by a full-time staff of 75. With each board and committee meeting for
its own multi-day conference twice a year, Nylen needed a space to hold
58 physician gatherings, plus his own staff and vendor meetings. The
size and intensity of these meetings dictated a space more than a bit
out of the ordinary.
the work of the ACGME committees goes on throughout the year, accreditation
decisions are finalized at the bi-annual meetings. Presentations at
these meetings tend to be informal. Presenter to member and member to
member communications are the main focus of each meeting.
Thus Nylen and United Visual’s
Doug Carnell spent many hours on the design of the conference table,
a very large, custom-built piece. Up to 30 participants can present
from their seats or to get up and speak from the center of the table,
where they can be as close as possible to each of their peers.
Each space at the table
includes full network and a/v hookups for member laptops. Nylen says
ACGME staff store all committee data and documentation on the organization’s
computer network. During the course of a meeting, participants can
access this information or additional research from internal or web-based
sources. They can then share what they wish with the group via the
room’s projection system.
World class audio/visual
With the intensity and
frequency of the meetings to be held at ACGME, Nylen knew the a/v
system had to be the best available. Since the projector would be
going on and off frequently during these meetings, it was important
to be able to keep room lights on. Carnell supplied an ultra-bright
Sony LCD projector, which accomplished this goal and also eliminated
the need for special window shading, even though the room has almost
floor-to-ceiling windows. That provided an additional plus: the lightweight
blinds Nylen used allow enough sunlight into the room to keep the
atmosphere warm and open.
When committee members
must be absent or the group must contact an affiliate or expert who
is unable to fly in, they can do so instantly via the room’s audioconferencing
system. The sound quality of this system is exceptional. Fifteen
individual microphones, built into the raised portion of the table,
pick up the voices of meeting participants and send them to the room’s
amplifier and ceiling speakers, as well as to far-end sites. An automatic
mic mixer and a digital echo cancellation system work together to
prevent feedback and to provide a very clear, natural sound.
One striking feature of
the room is the invisibility of the a/v system. Equipment is hidden
in the walls, ceiling and the table itself—even the projector and
screen disappear when not in use. “What the system is doing is very
important,” says Carnell, “but it does its work without anyone having
to think about it. The people who meet here have enough on their minds
without worrying or even thinking about the a/v.”
says that eventually the Council plans to add videoconferencing to
the room, and Carnell made sure the a/v and control systems will handle
it when they’re ready. The problem is, so far, that the physicians
ACGME members call typically do not have video systems to connect
to. They do, however, have laptops. Nylen says more and more often
a distant expert will send data, documents or even a PowerPoint presentation
using NetMeeting or similar software. Committee members can watch
the images on the big screen while the sender addresses the group
via the audioconferencing system.
it’s easy to present from any seat in the conference room, United
Visual also supplied a podium for formal presentations and more traditionally-run
staff meetings. The podium houses the control system, gooseneck mic
and the same kind of network and a/v hookups as the conference table.
Needless to say, Nylen
and the member physicians of ACGME are very pleased with the new facility.
Winners of the Best Presentation Rooms competition are chosen based
on presentation technology, the suitability of the system and the
room to the task at hand and aesthetics—all strong points of the new
The room reinvents human
scale. Committee members focus easily on each other and on their work.
The technology, while sophisticated, is not overpowering. The space,
though large, feels small and intimate. The room, according to Nylen,
works extremely well for the meetings it was designed for.