We have a building that offers a level of flexibility that I don’t think many other buildings offer. We are a membership organisation, we’re an educational organisation, we’re a training body, we’re a research space, we have small museum status and we’re a commercial venue. And we’re doing all that over seven floors. We needed AV that did more than one thing and did all the things that it did well. And we’ve got that.
- Ben Pain, Head of AV Resources, Royal College of Physicians
- Ben Pain, Head of AV Resources, Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians (RCP) at The Spine – Networked AV solution provides total flexibility for conferencing, events, medical assessment, and education. The new northern home of the RCP is a beacon of academic excellence, medical leadership, and a world-class events venue.
The RCP is the oldest medical college in England and everything it does is aimed at improving patient care and reducing illness. Its 40,000 members work in hospitals and the community across 30 different medical specialties and range from medical students to retired doctors.
The RCP’s investment in The Spine, a striking £35 million landmark development in Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter, opens new specialised facilities for the hosting of examinations and assessments, innovative hybrid teaching spaces, dedicated lounge and workspaces for Members and Fellows and a world-class venue for conferences and events, Spaces at The Spine.
The building, considered to be one of the healthiest in the UK, has been built to meet the principles of the WELL Building Standard and combines biophilic architecture with the 10 concepts of the standard to create an environment that supports and enhances the wellness of its occupants. The building’s technology is designed to blend seamlessly into the varied settings, with the ability to flex and adapt to meet the needs of this unique and multifaceted venue.
Technology consultant Recursive was appointed to work with RCP on the system design, and Pure AV was later chosen through a competitive bid process to be the project’s audio visual integrator.
The brief was ambitious from the outset, and the combination of the architect’s ground-breaking vision and RCP’s requirement for a network-driven, fully flexible, integrated, and easy-to-manage system laid the groundwork for a project that sets a new standard for event, education, and assessment spaces.
Visitors enter The Spine through a light, double-height atrium filled with the plants and greenery that are a signature element of the building’s architecture and have their first glimpse of the helical staircase that gives the building its name.
In the reception area, two 1 x 2 55” LG videowalls, driven by Tripleplay digital signage and Datapath processors emerge from a living wall to welcome visitors and share news of the day’s events. They are supplemented by NEC portable 1.9mm pixel pitch LED digital totem displays that also run Tripleplay and are used for wayfinding and event registration.
Power and data outlets are located throughout the ground floor area, as well as at the bottom of the Steps - a multifunctional, informal tiered seating area for networking, showcases, and community events that leads up to the versatile first floor area used for temporary exhibitions and events. This enables the in-house AV team to expand event branding opportunities, introduce additional wayfinding and place signage wherever needed.
The digital signage is carried through into the ground floor café area where three 65” LG screens provide digital menus, it also features in lift lobby areas and across all five floors occupied by the RCP. Around the building, there are close to 100 discreet screens that run Tripleplay.
The flexibility of the digital signage system provides the RCP team with a powerful tool to support event delivery. It offers sophisticated and unobtrusive guidance throughout the building, creates significant branding opportunities for clients, and, from a sustainability standpoint, eliminates the need for print-based signage.
The first floor also hosts a lounge where RCP members can relax and network after conferences. It features seating for meetings and quieter ‘pods’ for solo working and calls. The meeting spaces are typical of those found on the tenth-floor workspace and across the building. They can be used to host and join in-person, virtual and hybrid meetings, or to follow events being streamed from elsewhere in the building.
As with all environments at The Spine, they are designed to offer comfortable, highly-flexible, yet simple to use areas, fully connected via the QSC AV over IP system and opening up the full potential of the building’s facilities to staff, clients and members.The typical meeting room uses LG LFDs, Logitech conference systems, Extron controller and room sensors, Onelan room booking panels and Mersive Solstice for wireless connectivity, and the QSC AV over IP system to receive content from anywhere else in the building.
The Spine’s flexible content distribution and ability to reconfigure spaces and AV systems are key features. The infrastructure provided by the QSC AV over IP system, combined with the control provided by the Pure AV programming, enables RCP and the Spaces at the Spine event team to provide members and clients with a level of service that distinguishes them from other venues.
Using the system, the Spaces at The Spine team can facilitate a wide range of event scenarios, including hybrid and live streaming without the need to bring in additional equipment. They can quickly and easily combine and separate spaces to give the client exactly what they require.
From an educational standpoint, The Spine’s facilities offer medical trainees and professionals increased opportunity to access varied forms of learning and development. The integrated technology systems allow teaching staff to access and share content from multiple sources and route it between rooms and locations to support break-out sessions, remote participation, and collaboration. Increasing engagement with the medical community and reducing the time required away from clinical settings when studying.
Floor eleven is home to two clinical assessment suites, each consisting of 14 rooms built around a nursing station, simulating a clinical environment. Each room can be configured differently, one might simulate a surgery, others might include a consulting area or full hospital bed making it as realistic as possible.
These rooms are used for both PACE and OSCE examinations, candidates are put into a series of real-world scenarios, moving from room-to-room with actors playing patients. The technology within the Assessment Suite allows Examiners and assessment staff to watch, listen, record, and manage the movement of candidates around the different assessment areas. The suite has received excellent feedback from candidates and examiners alike. They are impressed with the set-up and how easy it makes the examination process.
All 28 rooms feature a 43” LG LFD, 180-degree ceiling mounted camera, Clockaudio beam forming Dante mics suspended from the ceiling, Onelan Reserva panels and Cloud ceiling speakers. Bespoke clock software integrates into the QSC media playback system and Tripleplay digital signage system to support the automated movement of candidates through the exam process.
The Spine also features distinctive educational spaces that further support the RCP’s role in the ongoing education and development of medical personnel and practices domestically and internationally.
Situated on floor twelve, the education spaces include six multi use spaces arranged as one pair of divisible rooms and a divisible group of four, a Harvard style lecture theatre and the flagship Wolfson Virtual Theatre.
The Wolfson Virtual Theatre is a unique virtual learning and presentation space designed to enable real-time collaboration between participants. It is helping the RCP bring essential training to a global community of healthcare practitioners, including many in developing nations where access to local medical training is limited.
The main space is dominated by 18 x 55” ultra-thin bezel LG displays creating a central 6 x 3 video wall. The outer wings are angled to optimize the viewing experience and provide valuable real estate for the presenter’s visual cues and session information which contribute to its ease of use.
Running the Mashme.io digital classroom platform, the presenter has full visibility of those attending and depending on the number, attendees are displayed 1, 2 or 4 per screen at or close to life size, creating a truly immersive and engaging experience. Cameras mounted at the front and rear of the space allow the presenter(s) to be seen by the far end and alternative presentation positions allow for additional participants to be present in the room.
When not used for education and meetings, the Wolfson Virtual Theatre has a partition wall allowing it to be opened-up to the adjacent circulation space which can is also used for event receptions. In this mode the video wall is transformed into a large digital signage display which the RCP or event promotor can configure to display event information and video. In this mode the video system allows the impressive display size to be treated as a blank canvas, displaying one or multiple content windows.
Audio playout is via Bose loudspeakers hidden behind acoustically transparent cloth, when the partition is removed, the double height circulation space can be fitted with portable Bose S1’s fed via Dante using Audinate’s AVIO adaptors. A Sennheiser team connect ceiling microphone and selection of Sennheiser speech line digital wireless microphones allow the presenter(s) speech to be picked up.
In the neighbouring Wolfson Lecture Theatre, the emphasis on creating an active learning environment is continued. The horseshoe layout encourages interaction between lecturers and the audience, and has banks of swivelling chairs, enabling those attending to turn and form small working groups without needing to move to a different room or breakout space. Stepped rows give everyone a great view of the lecturer and displays.
Seating up to 48 people, the display technology is provided around the room via one 98” interactive NEC display and one 98” LG display (with custom bezel to fit nicely beside the larger interactive display) and six 43” LG repeater and confidence screens. Control is via a QSC touchpanel, audio is via Sennheiser TCC2 ceiling and speech line digital wireless handheld and lavaliere mics, Cloud subs, and Bose speakers. Additional presentation technology is provided via Kaptivo boards and an Elmo visualiser.
Everything in the space, as with all RCP spaces at The Spine is connected onto the network and content can be shared in and out of the space, internally within the building, and streamed out to other locations.
The remaining spaces on floor twelve serve as both education and event spaces, with the RCP AV and events team able to quickly and easily adapt the spaces to meet the required use case thanks to their versatile furniture, networked technology, and flexible configuration.
Audio is provided in each space via Bose MA12 line arrays, Cloud subs, Bose speakers and Sennheiser TeamConnect 2 mics fitted in the ceiling. The display in each room is an impactful 98” NEC interactive screen, and the in-room AV is controlled by QSC touchpanels, with QSC front and reverse PTZ cameras and AVoIP encoders rounding out the picture alongside Mersive and Onelan.
At the top of the building is The Spine’s conferencing and events floor, Spaces at The Spine. With its panoramic views across Liverpool and destination dining space, it has all the ingredients to create unforgettable event experiences.
The floor includes two flexible event spaces with separate control positions that can be expanded into one large room accommodating up to 300 delegates, as well as a third space, which is the perfect hub or green room for organisers or speakers.
In each event space there are two 98” LG displays in bespoke cabinets, QSC cameras, Sennheiser mics and Bose speakers all managed via the QSC system. The room also features an AV control desk for the in-house AV team to run during events.
In these rooms as with all spaces at The Spine, the technology is simple to use and ensures that even complex, multi-room hybrid events can take place easily.
The flexibility that the network-based design provides, and the IT infrastructure designed into the building means that Spaces at The Spine can respond to unique client requests and provide multi-camera tracking and streaming of events as delegates move between rooms, without the need to bring in additional companies or hire additional equipment.
The response to Spaces at The Spine and the impact it has had on the Liverpool events community has been unanimously positive.
It is already being regarded as a new standard for hospitality and event spaces in the city and the wider northwest. With access to user-friendly reliable production technology and an infrastructure that can accommodate physical, hybrid, or virtual events, it’s widely acknowledged as being technologically far ahead of any of its competitors.
The development at The Spine underlines the RCP’s position as a beacon of medical leadership. It is a centre of academic excellence, a world-class learning and assessment centre and a unique conference and events venue.
RCP, Recursive and Pure AV have worked collaboratively to deliver a versatile technology solution to meet the varied needs of this multifaceted organisation. The programming of the system, undertaken by Pure AV engineers is key to the way the whole system functions.
Working closely with QSC and RCP IT, they created a bespoke user interface for RCP AV staff to easily route audio-visual signals across the network.
Utilising the QSC platform for audio, control, and video distribution for almost all spaces allows all rooms to have a very familiar look and feel to the casual user, but under the skin is an incredibly powerful and capable education, workspace, event, exhibition, and public spaces technology system.