Tour Twitter’s High-Tech Headquarters (You’ll Want to Tweet About It)

With help from Thresher Communications and Crestron, Twitter’s headquarters provides employees with a high-tech yet rustic ‘Lodge’ space equipped with an advanced video entertainment and video conferencing system technology.

CI Staff
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CI has covered plenty of high-tech, innovative and sleek modern office spaces, and Twitter’s headquarters is up there with the most impressive.

Located in San Francisco, Twitter’s headquarters boasts a high-tech “Lodge”, set up like a rustic coffee shop or sports bar, featuring two century-old log cabins to add to its rustic feel.

The Lodge was created in order to provide an enticing environment for relaxation, team building and informal meetings, according to Crestron

The café area outside of the cabins provides semi-private spaces to hold meetings.  Outfitted with a video conferencing system, team members are able to connect with other employees in Twitter’s 30+ global offices.

Photos: Inside Twitter’s Lodge Space

The café area features round tables positioned near a nine screen video wall, a coffee bar with its own 80″ Sharp TV, a stairway up to a sixth-floor kitchen, and back area with 12 semi-private booths.

The Lodge also boasts the following high-tech features:

  • Four flat panel TVs mounted in front of four L-shaped couches
  • An advanced audio and video system powered by CrestronMedia and operated by Crestron control technology
  • A high-tech sound system, divided into three zones, with QSC amplifiers sending music, TV audio, and/or sound from two wireless mic systems to 30 Tannoy ceiling speakers

Thresher Communications, who has worked with Twitter for almost three years, was hired as the integrator for the project.

“We tried to design systems that would serve the very interesting and eclectic nooks that the Lodge consists of,” says Andrew Jones, program manager at Thresher Communications, in a Crestron case study.

“We’re leveraging the technology to provide an entertaining atmosphere and help make communications more fun.”

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Thresher integrated a Crestron DigitalMedia network to keep video and audio quality at its highest, and Crestron control to keep operations simple.

All Eyes on the Video Wall

Built using nine Planar 46” displays mounted in a three-by-three array, the focus of the Lodge’s video systems is the video wall.

Most often the video wall carries a single, 5.5’ x 10’ image, but each of its displays can show a separate channel, according to Crestron.

Thresher also included a preset on the Crestron touch screen for a six-image display, with four screens carrying a single program and the remaining screens five more.

The video conferencing system includes the following features:

  • A high definition codec with two pan/tilt/zoom cameras
  • One mounted on a pull-out shelf next to the video wall to capture local meeting participants
  • One mounted opposite the video wall to capture presenters

Staff can use the video wall to view up to nine images, including one or two laptops screens, a near-end preview and multiple far-end sites.

Crestron reports that the video wall and the other TVs are fed by a DM 32X32 switcher, which allows users to send any source to any combination of displays.

Sources include 18 DIRECTV receivers, the video conferencing system, and two Crestron wall plates with inputs for digital and analog laptops.

Alex Stillings, IT manager for Twitter, expects to connect the switcher to a larger DigitalMedia network as the company grows, allowing the Lodge to serve as an overflow space for company-wide all-hands meetings originating on the ninth floor.

To keep things simple, Haynes and the Thresher team installed a 10” Crestron touch screen on a credenza near the video wall.

“Users can simply grab a source from a list on the touch screen, and drag it to an image of the display or audio zone they want,” says Stillings.

Thresher also created a password-protected technician’s screen, providing in-depth control of all of the systems.

Not Your Average ‘Cabins’

In the cabins, Thresher mounted a 7” Crestron touch screen below each of the TVs. It has just two screens: one with the eight most popular DIRECTV channels and the other allowing users to key in any channel.

“The touch screens are a little more expensive than DIRECTV remotes,” Stillings tells Crestron, “but they are well worth it. They’re a lot easier to use, they look better, and they don’t get misplaced like a handheld remote.”

Stillings and his staff can also access any of the control screens from anywhere with an Internet connection, if, for example, someone needs help to set up the video wall or route meeting audio to the right zone remotely.

“The cool thing was that we could have multiple inputs with HDMI and VGA plus analog audio, all on a solid transport layer that could run for hundreds of feet. For video conferencing, we started using Crestron touch screens and a DM matrix for routing.

Crestron gives us a really nice interface that can control the whole room, including lighting and shading. For our simpler rooms we use ‘auto on’ and ‘off’ that we leverage through the Crestron system. I can just come in, plug in my laptop and everything I need turns on. We don’t need a remote or a panel at all.”

It’s safe to say the Lodge has been a hit among Twitter employees.

Open all day, it’s not unusual for employees to meet at the Lodge after hours for a drink or to watch a game.

“I don’t come in on Sundays,” Stillings says,”but I wouldn’t be surprised to find a group there watching football. Our people like it so much that, during a big event like the World Cup, it’s standing room only.”