As a New York-based integration firm, ANC knew the massive Westfield World Trade Center project would be something special, important and highly publicized. The company also feared that its old name, ANC Sports, would keep it from ever getting the job as systems integrator for the highly coveted project in the first place.
And, while it wasn’t the deciding factor in the integration firm’s decision to simplify and streamline its name, questions about its involvement in the project certainly helped to cement that change after it was chosen to oversee the installation of a world-record 5,000-plus square feet of seamless LED in the 16-acre complex that could attract 100 million visitors every year.
Chris Mascatello, executive VP of technology sales and services at ANC, says the timeline for the 365,000-square-foot retail project was “much longer than we traditionally do,” spanning nearly four years from first contact to deployment of the system and the opening of the center in mid-August.
Across Westfield World Trade Center are 19 digital screens, ranging in sizes from four stories high to more that is more than 280 feet long as part of the Westfield Digital Media Network. The screens allow for a wide range of custom messaging including live streaming and can be run concurrently or individually.
The center includes Apple, H&M, Hugo Boss, Kate Spade and Sephora locations among its 100 stores and sponsorships from Pepsi, JPMorgan Chase and Ford Motor Company. The center also includes three distinct event spaces located indoors within the majestic Oculus and outdoors at the Oculus Plaza and along Cortlandt Way.
Here’s a look at ANC’s work at the Westfield World Trade Center:
“It was an interesting and fun project for us,” says Mascatello. “We spent more time on design and engineering and aesthetics with this project than with any other project we’ve ever done. It’s a project that had a lot of meaning to us as a New York-based company and it helped us take the first step into new ventures. It’s a project that comes with a real sense of reverence and importance.”
ANC’s interest in the project also “helped to bolster the internal argument about changing our old ANC Sports name,” he says.
Discussions, which started when the Freedom Tower was still under construction, focused on technology, placement of equipment, manufacturer suggestions, LEDs, broadcast equipment and more, says Mascatello.
“We started as the owner’s rep, then transitioned to being the integrator and now we’re the service partner for the displays. It was a huge deployment for a company like us, probably the signature digital signage deployment of the year. People are going to have that wow factor every time they walk on the site. It’s not just a train station or a mall. It’s the heart of lower Manhattan,” he says.
Here are a few of the highlights of the Westfield World Trade Center installation:
- The unique digital media network features a 4mm LED display measuring 280 feet long featuring 16 continuous HD outputs which can be driven natively, as well as part of the larger canvas in the building in precise frame synch across 18 other displays.
- As consumers cross underneath the 9A Underpass, they will experience four separate LED displays totaling more than 800 square feet and 3.9 million pixels. Traveling through the complex and the Oculus, there are 12 displays spread across two levels in Tower 4. Consumers will also experience a 70-foot transparent LED display encasing Tower 4’s lobby glass elevator.
- The software is ANC’s proprietary vCOMM platform. vCOMM was developed specifically for the retail, transportation and commercial markets, utilizing many of the features from ANC’s live event platform, such as precise frame synch across multiple servers, driving “greater-than-HD” displays without scaling content, automated failover and more.
With the City of New York, the New York Port Authority and Westfield among the groups to which ANC reported its progress, “there were a lot of different groups looking over the project, everything down to the paint colors and trim details,” says Mascatello.
Another challenge came in the fact that ANC and other trades were working in an area that was an active train station, where hundreds of thousands of people commuted and got around the city. In addition to keeping the work under wraps, it meant staging and coordination that didn’t disrupt day-to-day life.
There were some parts of the installation that were like most other ANC projects, he says, noting “the actual installation is always rushed. We were a very small piece of a very large construction project. When we were hanging LEDs, we were pretty much on our own, but for things like power and fiber optics, there was a lot of coordination with the other trades.”
As ANC worked on the 280-foot screen in the main hallway of the center, the installation was done behind a walled-in enclosure that was keeping the project covered until the official unveiling.
That was a challenge in the building now considered the gate way to Manhattan, with 60,000 neighborhood residents, 300,000 daily commuters, 13 subway/PATH trains, multiple ferry lines, and an additional 15 million annual global travelers.
Mascatello is optimistic ANC’s work on the Westfield World Trade Center project could lead to other large-scale retail jobs.
“To have an affiliation with a worldwide brand like Westfield, there’s a lot of upside,” he says. ANC enhanced its work in custom cabinetry and paid more attention to aesthetics in this installation, says Mascatello.
“We got more experience in custom product design and that will certainly help us move forward,” he says. “We’re flexing the same muscles in different ways.”