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GAINESVILLE, GEORGIA – DECEMBER 2010: Simply stated, the Lanier Charter Career Academy at The Oaks (The Oaks @ LCCA) is an educational facility that trains high school students in all aspect of the hospitality industry, including cooking, serving, promoting, managing, and financing. The Oaks @ LCCA differentiates itself from the norm by offering its students several hospitality- and service-related businesses that operate for profit; real-world, resume-building experience in the operation of those businesses; and the experience of learning within the latest integrated audio, video, and lighting technologies.

The building, its technologies, and the connection it creates between the local community and its young people have earned The Oaks @ LCCA a prestigious national award (out of hundreds of nominated projects) from the Building of America Network for innovations in education, design, and technologies. H. Lloyd Hill Architects of Gainesville designed the

building. Atlanta-based dB Audio & Video both designed and installed its audio, video, control/automation, digital signage, and lighting technologies.

At the heart of its educational innovation is “The Oaks,” a constellation of five student-run, for-profit businesses. The Corner Café serves coffees and teas along with baked goods, and boasts a state-of-the-art drive-thru for commuter convenience. Get Gifted offers cards and specially gifts for purchase, and Design 360 delivers customized tee-shirts, coffee cups, and other goods for targeted marketing. Bistro at the Oaks serves lunchtime patrons refined fare with fine dining ambience. Lastly, Meetings and Events provide a cutting-edge conference facility for up to 175 guests, with accommodations for breakout sessions and comprehensive food service.

Far from being a one-way portal for announcements to the students, the audio, video, and lighting technology at The Oaks @ LCCA is a tool for education that is wielded not just by the faculty, but by the students as well. “Our school is focused on careers in the hospitality industry,” stated Cindy Blakley, Ed.D, director of secondary education for Hall County Schools. “To prepare students for the latest technology they will utilize in this industry, it’s critical that we provide experience with these technologies. After meeting with local industry leaders, we targeted the latest technology that was critical to our instructional program, including digital signage capability, zoned audio system for the entire school, and video-conferencing capability.”

“The Oaks @ LCCA is at the cusp; very few schools have yet to draw on this kind of technology,” added Neil Philpott, systems advisor with dB Audio & Video. “The Oaks @ LCCA features Crestron push-button and wireless touch-panel control throughout. Fluency in that protocol puts the school’s students at an advantage in the job market.” Indeed, there are Crestron interfaces throughout the school to control both local (e.g. volume or source input) and global (e.g. room combining) functions. Kalonji Nicholson and Barry Shields, dB Audio & Video’s Crestron certified programmers, integrated Crestron’s RoomView technology throughout, allowing remote viewing to speed troubleshooting not just for itself, but for the school technicians as well.

The brains of the audio, video, and lighting systems are organized into two head-end rooms, with Ethernet delivering communications between them and throughout the building. In the event of an emergency, the entire school can behave as one zone, allowing announcements or prerecorded messages to override zone-specific material for broadcast throughout. The audio, video, digital signage, and telephone systems are appropriately integrated, allowing, for example, paging via the phone system or zone-specific audio synchronized to digital signage. Bi-Amp digital signal processing, Crestron integration technologies, QSC amplification, and Atlas Sound distributed loudspeakers form the core of the system. Sennheiser wireless microphones provide high-quality spoken word input in the classrooms and conference center, and a collection of pieces from Denon, Samsung, Tascam, and LG provide video and audio inputs in every contemporary format. A Presonus 16-channel digital mixer provides hands-on mix control and multi-track recording in the conference center.

dB Audio & Video installed theatrical lighting in all of the larger divisible rooms. Consistent with The Oaks @ LCCA’s commitment to greener processes, all lighting is LED-based, which is much more energy-efficient than conventional lighting technologies. Elation Lighting controls the lights and integrates with the building’s Crestron backbone. For elegant operation even in the absence of a lighting technician, Philpott set the system up with presets, based on where the lectern is located. The automatic camera systems from Vaddio use an infrared sensor that detects the position of the presenter in the room. When the presenter is at the lectern, the camera gets a tight shot of where he or she is standing. When the presenter moves away from the lectern, the camera pulls back for a wide shot of the entire front half of the room. When rooms combine or divide, the systems within each room switch accordingly. The school charges extra for DVD recordings of events, which adds revenue for only a modest, up-front cost.

The marketing class utilizes the school’s Samsung MagicInfo Pro digital signage as a unique educational tool as well as a viable source of revenue. With it, students learn how to develop content in numerous resolutions and layouts for marketing, and they publish much of what they produce on the school’s digital signage system. This includes developing digital ordering menu boards for the Corner Café for both the walk-in customer as well as the drive-up window. Indeed, much like as in an art class, the students publish their work and then the entire class walks the building, offering constructive criticism of the work. In addition, public businesses are welcomed to advertise on the system, adding a significant revenue stream for the school while simultaneously forging connections between the school and the local business community. Noted Halley Smith, intern at LCCA, “Digital signage allows the design to come alive. It gives you more options to be creative with movement and colors. It challenges me to think beyond static design on paper or t-shirts. I also like how the TVs are published and get noticed. I know I’m learning some valuable real life design skills.”

“The Oaks @ LCCA represents a very tangible connection between the classroom and the real world,” concluded Philpott. “LCCA is providing their students education as it should be, and all of us at dB Audio & Video are proud to have contributed our knowledge to this forward-thinking institution and its leadership.”
ABOUT dB AUDIO AND VIDEO dB Audio and Video is a Gainesville, Georgia-based design/build technologies integrator specializing in audio and acoustics, broadcast and presentation video, digital signage, and control automation for houses of worship, schools, sports arenas, government and military. For more information visit:

PHOTO CAPTION Lanier Charter Career Academy, where education meets good taste! The Oaks @ LCCA, earned one of the national awards cited by the Building of America Network for excellence is education, design and technologies. The audio/video systems were designed and installed by dB Audio and Video, Gainesville, Georgia with Neil Philpott, systems designer, directing the project.