Built to Last: NEC Projector Creates Immersive Visualizations for Pennsylvania Construction Firm

Published: January 11, 2017
Immersive Technology Center at Alvin H. Butz Headquarters

Any company that has been in business since the mid-1800s recognizes the need to swing with the times and meet changing market demands. So when construction management firm Alvin H. Butz, Inc., saw that its customers were placing a growing importance on the use of technology to visualize buildings pre-construction, the firm decided to completely revamp the way it presented building plans to create a new Immersive Technology Center at its headquarters.

Instead of simply presenting building plans and renderings to clients in a two-dimensional format – the traditional way of doing things – Butz also utilizes Building Information Modeling (BIM), which allows the client to visualize in a 3-D rendering what the building will actually look like when finished.

The Challenge

Butz tapped Vistacom, an Allentown-based commercial AV integrator it has worked with for the past decade on customer and partner projects.

“As construction managers, it’s important to be able to give a realistic depiction of how a building will look when finished to the end users, who may not be familiar with construction [blueprints], but are going to be using that facility every day,” said John Bilodeau, applications engineer for Vistacom. “[For example,] doctors [should be able to] see the layout of an exam room and weigh in on the placement of equipment by seeing a life-size visual of the room.”

Using tools like BIM and 3ds Max lets Butz construction managers show 3-D visualizations of buildings well before construction begins, allowing their customers to make any changes early in the process – saving time and money.

Butz’s custom presentation space had to stand up to – and enhance – this technology.

The Solution

Butz decided on the projector solution, with the stipulation that the projector needed to be high contrast and with high light output – and also that it be lampless.

Bilodeau recommended the NEC PH1202HL model, a laser projector that is lampless and offers high brightness, with 20,000 hours of maintenance-free operation.

“It was the only solution that was a projector of this size and this much output with the laser/phosphor technology behind it,” he said. “NEC is probably the No. 1 display technology manufacturer we use [at Vistacom].”

The Center’s Design

The rebuilt space includes a large conference room that seats about 20 people, with a large conference table in the center and a high ceiling.

The rear projection application is in a purpose-built room next to the conference room and utilizes a “mirror bounce” application, which means the projector is pointed away from the screen and at a mirror in the rear projection room, and the mirror bounces the image back to the screen. This ensured that Butz didn’t have to sacrifice as much floor space in the conference room itself.


The Results

Bilodeau said that the firm was pleased with the way the room turned out, and Butz’s staff echo his thoughts.

“The system has been very impressive to those we’ve brought into the center – not only in the size of the screen, but in the technology behind it,” said Margaret McConnell, enterprise marketing manager for Butz. “Our customers are always wowed when we bring them into this space.”

The firm is looking forward to showing its prospective clients how its use of new technologies can help save money on a project by targeting potential issues and identifying solutions – through 3-D visualization, before a shovel ever hits the ground.

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