Three ideals inform WRNS Studio’s approach to each project: beauty, sustainability and a positive contribution to the public realm. It is the relentless pursuit of these ideals, carried out over a diversity of project types, scales and contexts, that distinguishes its work.
Propelled by these ideals, it was selected as the number one U.S. firm by Architect Magazine. This was the second time in five years — and it was only the second firm to have been honored with this recognition for a second time. How do you get to be number one?
Collaboration is key
Collaboration is one important factor. As WRNS Studio’s IT director Chris Niewiarowski said, “Collaboration is absolutely vital. We wouldn’t be the number one rated architecture firm if we couldn’t quickly and effectively work together across our offices and with our clients.”
That takes collaborative environments. With offices in San Francisco, Seattle, Honolulu and New York, as well as working with international clients, it means you need advanced audio conferencing.
Frustrated by legacy systems
But WRNS had serious issues with its existing audio conferencing systems. “Frankly, we had gone the more ‘budget’ route with integrated microphone and camera units,” said Chris. “The microphone solutions were terrible. They were single-mic solutions. The noise cancellation and echo cancellation were essentially nonexistent. They wouldn’t pick up cross talk across the tables very well. If you weren’t speaking directly at the mic, people couldn’t hear everything you were saying. It was causing a lot of confusion. And when you’re trying to collaborate across offices or with clients, any interruptions like that are unprofessional and frustrating.”
This caused serious headaches for Chris and the rest of his IT team. Audio conferencing issues were among their most frequent complaints. The tickets were piling up and they were spending too much time troubleshooting and just helping team members get meetings started.
With their ability to collaborate and their reputation with clients at stake – plus the drain on IT resources – it was time for a change.
WRNS asked a trusted audio/IT consultant for advice – it wanted a system that would provide the firm with the audio performance it needed and the ease-of-use that lets team members start meetings quickly with no hassles. And, since it is an architectural firm, looks were also very important.
The consultant vetted a number of solutions and came back with a recommendation for the Nureva HDL300 system.
WRNS outfitted four rooms with HDL300 systems on a newly built-out floor in their San Francisco office. Everyone was immediately impressed.
Audio performance they hoped for
“We were looking for a system that would provide clean and crisp audio quality that was able to pick up anyone in the room and even pick up cross talk between people,” said Chris. “And not having to face the microphone and speak into it to allow for more robust discussion with those who weren’t in the room was also vital. The HDL300 fit the bill. We’re very happy. I’m honestly not sure how you could make it better.”
The HDL300 also delivered on looks. “The second factor that led us to go with the HDL300 was the clean aesthetic. As an architecture firm with a keen eye for the look and feel of our spaces, it was important that any tech components we brought in would complement the conference room setup,” said Chris. “We got a few of the designers involved. They really liked the HDL300. The white-colored model fits perfectly in one of our Seattle offices so it’s great that it is available in two colors.”
Works with a variety of room styles
And the HDL300’s continuous autocalibration feature that allows the system to adapt to different room configurations meant WRNS could use it in a wide variety of room styles. Everything from a lounge-style room with couches to traditional boardroom settings to a room with a big round ‘King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table’ style table. The HDL300 even works well in rooms with changing dimensions like the boardroom at the WRNS San Francisco office that has retractable walls to allow for larger meetings. “We pull the walls back and get as many people as we possibly can in the room,” said Chris. “And the HDL300 picks up meeting participants and then filters out people chatting amongst themselves in the background.”
Happy end users
Feedback from the WRNS team on the performance of the HDL300 has been very positive, with many employees expressing how clear and clean the audio is and how simple the system is to start up. The performance, ease-of use and aesthetics of the initial four units had people throughout the organization’s offices wondering when they were going to get “theirs,” which led to the purchase of six more HDL300s. Even outside consultants and another architect firm that has seen and experienced the HDL300 at the WRNS offices have asked to speak with IT about how to get a system for themselves.
The firm’s partners are happy, too, said Chris. “They were the ones who were the most frustrated with our old conference rooms. But all of them are now very happy with how the rooms are configured, so it’s been really good for us. We’re very happy.”
Happy IT department
For the IT department, deploying the HDL300 has meant far fewer calls and service tickets related to audio. That sweetened the deal for WRNS since the IT department now expends fewer resources on troubleshooting calls and is able to allot more time for other higher-value duties.
Bonus benefit: less travel
Being committed to sustainability, WRNS is pleased that the HDL300 has helped them cut travel time for team members. “Nureva’s high-quality audio along with our video conferencing brings us together like never before,” said Jason Halaby, WRNS Studio senior associate, architect and BIM manager. “As we are committed to sustainability in our projects, we also look for ways to reduce the carbon footprint in our own practice by reducing travel. Now with Nureva’s system in all our conference rooms, we can reduce travel without sacrificing connectivity and collaboration.”
As a world-class architecture firm, the people at WRNS are keenly aware of the elements of aesthetically-pleasing, easy-to-use and highly functional spaces. The HDL300 helps tick the boxes in all three categories – plus a box for sustainability. Chris adds, “The HDL300 has changed the way we work in the sense that we’re doing more conferencing and more collaborating because it’s easier to get everyone in a room and get together and showcase our work.”
Photography: ©2019 Celso Rojas.
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Posted on Jul 8, 2019 12:59:00 AM