[De] The Reitz Union within the University of Florida heralds from humble origins – a simple campaign back in 1922 to raise funds for an on-campus YMCA. Since then, the student union has grown to over 630,000 square feet servicing over 50,000 students. Named after former University President Dr. J. Wayne Reitz, this facility continues to serve as the community center of the campus, providing services and programs to meet the needs of students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
Within this expansive space is Grand Ballroom, one of the most versatile areas available in the Union – split into eight 45x45-foot salons with the total area measuring roughly 20,000 square feet. The Grand Ballroom is rented out for a host of events but unfortunately, the audio wasn’t living up to the space’s requirements. “I’ll get straight to it – the audio was bad,” explained Lon Vance, Senior Engineer Audio Visual Systems of the University of Florida. “The old system was simply outdated. This is a student union area, and we needed a solution that was rock solid. QSC was by far the easiest, plus gave us the digital signal processing flexibility necessary for a divisible space.”
The AV team selected a Q-SYS Core 510i integrated processor, as it offers a total network audio channel capacity of 256 x 256, one of the largest available of any Q-SYS Core processor, and necessary for such a large area. Of course, they wanted to maximize the flexibility of the Grand Ballroom – to do so the team leveraged room combining via Q-SYS, which allows them to separate or merge audio signals depending on the air wall setup. Q-SYS also gives the AV team the opportunity to easily select their preferred microphones in any area within the divisible space via a third-party control system.
Accompanying this are three Q-SYS I/O-22 network audio I/O devices. Via dynamic pairing, these compact units are able to float throughout the space and simply plug into a switch without having to take the system off-line or having to redeploy the design – perfect for the Grand Ballroom’s back-to-back schedule. Following the promise of easily achieving best-in-class results, a Q-SYS NS Series Gen 2 pre-configured network switch was chosen to provide an out-of-the-box solution for building standalone AV networks.
The loudspeaker arrangement took some outside-of-the-box thinking, as baffles along the ceiling were the sole anchor points. To work with the environment, the AV team installed seventy-two QSC AcousticDesign surface-mount loudspeakers twenty-six feet in the air. They selected the series due to its clarity and presence within higher fidelity applications, with power being provided by a Q-SYS CX-Q Series network amplifiers.
Next on the list of future audio, visual, and control updates are two student recreation centers. Each are slated to be equipped with their own Cores as well as updated loudspeakers and network touch panels, with even more plans are on the horizon. Though its origins might be humble, the University of Florida Reitz Union continues to make strong moves in building a facility that honors its namesake.
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