Technology to Fuel Collaboration, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at USC's Marshall School of Business - Fertitta Hall

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

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The Client

The University of Southern California (USC) is one of the oldest private research universities in the United States. Founded in 1880, USC is the largest private employer in Los Angeles and as of the 2018-2019 school year, had nearly 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students. USC was ranked 21st in U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 annual ranking of national universities.

The University of Southern California – Marshall School of Business began as the College of Commerce and Business Administration in 1920. The USC – Marshall School of Business is at the cusp of innovation and excellence in business. Its Entrepreneurship Program was the first of its kind when it launched back in 1972, and they are the first major business school to achieve gender parity. Fertitta Hall is a 102,000-square-foot student collaboration, instructional and entrepreneurial space for USC – Marshall School of Business students.

The Project

With plans for a September 2016 opening date, USC launched the project a year prior in 2015. USC had ambitious plans for Fertitta Hall to serve as a center for collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship among its students. It was important to USC that their partner for this project understood and aligned with their mission to create a uniquely interactive and engaging hub of student activity in Fertitta Hall.

Over the past 15 years, USC and Spinitar have successfully partnered, installing cutting-edge technology in more than 100 classrooms across campus. With the high quality of work delivered and positive experience working together, USC was thrilled to partner with Spinitar again.

Fertitta Hall was a new kind of collaboration for Spinitar and USC. With a total of 80 rooms and spaces needing advanced audiovisual solutions, the size and scope of this project were impressive. Spinitar worked closely with USC and their designer, McKay Conant Hoover, to implement on the bid specs, equipment lists and drawings provided. 

Working on such a layered project with multiple stakeholders, it was imperative that Spinitar’s team — who had worked with USC on previous projects — carefully balanced the designs provided by their AV design consultant, MCH with USC’s specific wants and needs. It was particularly important to plan for and integrate the most modern technologies. Spinitar consulted with their manufacturing partners to ensure that any of the technology that was installed would not be surpassed by newer or better models by the time the building was opened.

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The Design

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Spinitar worked with USC leaders, quickly proposing a budget and timeline that also integrated with the timeline provided by USC’s design partner, MCH. The Spinitar team worked closely with MCH to develop innovative spaces that nurtured creativity and collaboration among students and professors. 

Fertitta Hall is designed to be much more than a university building where students attend class and quickly retreat back to their dorms. Instead, it is a core addition to the Marshall School of Business, where students attend class, collaborate in small and large groups, prepare and practice presentations, study and more. The building’s design was carefully fashioned and implemented by Spinitar to deliver an exceptional experience for students, faculty, and the rest of the Trojan family.

The following types of spaces had to be planned:

  • Classrooms – Twenty (20) classrooms, including fifteen (15) standard classrooms, three (3) active-learning classrooms and two (2) large lecture hall classrooms designed specifically for student collaboration opportunities.
  • Experiential Learning Center (ELC) – Unique facility designed to replicate real-world business scenarios, where students “learn by doing” in an interactive learning style.
  • Lecture Halls – Large rooms that required state-of-the-art configuration to ensure an immersive learning experience for students.
  • Conference Rooms – Smaller rooms used by faculty, staff, USC executives, and other departments for meetings, presentations and events.
  • Breakout Rooms – Fifty-One (51) innovative collaborative spaces for students.
  • Digital Signage – Spinitar provided the hardware and configuration of all displays, and partnered with Advent to create the content to be displayed on digital signage throughout Fertitta Hall.
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Conference Room
Classroom
Experiential Learning Center (ELC)
Experiential Learning Center (ELC)
Breakout Room

This new expansion of the business school was a high-profile and critical project. USC required custom work throughout the building, including customized racks with specific finishes and sizing, custom mountings for the digital signage near each of the six (6) elevators in the building, special consideration for AV in each type of room, and more. The focal point of AV design and customization is shown in the lobby through Samsung displays that have been mounted, angled, and oriented into a showpiece that features USC’s best and brightest alumni.

The ELC, in particular, was an extremely unique component of the Fertitta Hall project requiring a significant amount of planning and customization to achieve USC’s desired functionality. The ELC is one large room that can be partitioned into many smaller rooms. To facilitate collaborative opportunities and learning among entrepreneurial students, each room within the ELC needed its own AV system; however, simultaneously needed the ability to combine with AV in other rooms. Our engineers carefully crafted a technical plan that delivered state-of-the-art technology to be used independently or combined, depending on the specific needs of students and faculty.

The Technology

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Since Spinitar had worked closely with USC in the past and understood the unique design and goals of Fertitta Hall, our team developed a plan that leveraged Samsung technology to deliver immaculate displays at the core of each area. As the industry leader in commercial displays, Samsung offers truly superior quality for their most discerning clients. 

Spinitar and Samsung have frequently partnered to provide solutions for a range of projects, so our team was confident in Samsung’s ability to deliver the technology needed to meet the needs and demands of USC faculty and staff. Their exceptional service and response time ensured USC received timely, efficient service when needed, and Samsung experts were on-site during installation and testing to ensure their products performed as promised. 

The technology used in Fertitta Hall included:

Classrooms

With both standard and active-learning classrooms, Fertitta Hall classrooms required technology including dual projectors, audio/video/content recording and capture systems, microphones, cameras, in addition to multiple displays and projectors in the active-learning classrooms.

Lecture Halls

With a half-moon shape and using tiered seating, traditional lecture halls needed much more than old-school technology to deliver an immersive learning experience for students. Technology included audio/video/content recording and capture systems, three projectors and dropdown screens, plus front and back cameras from Panasonic.

Breakout Rooms

The breakout rooms at Fertitta Hall embody the spirit of collaboration and innovation of both Fertitta Hall and USC – Marshall School of Business. As such, each breakout room is separated by glass windows, which also showcase each room’s 48” HD flat panel with built-in speakers for presentations.

Breakout rooms also have Samsung Galaxy tablets with an easy-to-use scheduling system for students to determine room availability (and to reserve a space). Spinitar both provided the Samsung Galaxy tablets and created custom mounting brackets for the tablet in each of the fifty-one (51) breakout rooms. Custom wall plates in each room allow students to plug in their devices using HDMI and USB ports, and each display has its own computer in case students did not bring their own devices.

Special consideration from our engineers was given to coordinate technology for the breakout rooms while subsequently ensuring there was enough bandwidth within the network to support such robust infrastructure.

Experiential Learning Center (ELC)

The ELC is arguably the most unique space inside Fertitta Hall. With 12 rooms on the ground floor of the building, this area required robust technology. Our solution included:

  • One (1) large centralized control room with two (2) 20″ tabletop touch panels, racks, recording equipment and intercoms
  • Breakout rooms within the ELC with equipment for students to practice presentations, including a wall mounted 55″ HD flat panel display, microphones, speakers, cameras, and intercom systems
  • Flexible walls that move to change the size of the room depending on specific needs

Conference Rooms

To meet the diverse needs of its users and events, Fertitta Hall conference rooms needed technology that worked with a variety of complementary tech and users. Technology in the conference rooms includes flat panel displays, control systems with table cable cubbies for AV/IT/Power connectivity, speakers embedded in the ceiling, and a central AMX touch panel control.

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This unique space features integrated touch screens from Samsung, along with highly specific mounting brackets with precise sizing and in precise locations. Ensuring the preciseness of these brackets required a significant amount of coordination among the Spinitar team.

All Technologies

  • Distance Learning with Computer Based Capture/Recording Systems
  • Digital Signage and Interactive Touch Displays
  • Experiential Learning Center (ELC) with 12 Breakout Rooms and 1 Central Control Room w/6 Full Height AV Racks
  • Touchpanel Control Systems and Digital Matrix Routing & Distribution Systems
  • Digital Wireless Microphone Systems
  • Ceiling Microphones
  • Audio Digital Signal Processors (DSP’s) with AEC (Acoustic Echo Cancellation)
  • Intercom Systems
  • High Brightness (6000 – 8500 Lumens) WUXGA Laser Projectors
  • Ceiling Recessed Motorized Projection Screens
  • Multimedia Lecterns
  • Distributed Audio Systems
  • CATV and MATV Systems
  • Active Learning Classrooms
  • DirectView LED Video Wall with Custom Motorized Wall Mount, 2 In-Wall Speakers, and a 32” LCD Touch-Table
  • HD PTZ Cameras
  • Room Scheduling Systems
  • Wireless Presentation Systems
  • 4K and HD/1080p Flat Panel Displays
  • 50 Breakout/Huddle Rooms
  • Soft Codec/USB PC Based HD Video Conferencing and Audio Conferencing

Digital Signage

Keeping students informed and engaged is essential in Fertitta Hall. Samsung technology powers digital signage throughout the building, including:

Lobby Video Wall

The lobby video wall welcomes students, faculty and guests to Fertitta Hall. It is the showpiece of the lobby, featuring bright, large displays from Samsung directly next to the main entrance.

At 9 feet wide and 20 feet high, with two rows of ten (10) displays each, the lobby video wall features direct view LED video displaying marketing communications and statistics. Content is scheduled in advance, and is controlled by an AMX touch panel. This unique showpiece also includes an interactive touch table, from which content and other options can also be chosen to display on the wall. Two (2), in-wall speakers play audio.

Elevators

The Spinitar team configured the hardware for each display, with content created by Advent. Vertical displays by the elevators required custom mounting, with custom pieces of steel and wood to ensure the displays were flush and level with the walls.

Cafeteria

The first-floor cafeteria is the center of activity (and food!) for students. It features two (2) 85” Samsung displays in portrait mode, and required a separate rack of technology in the equipment rooms to tie cable systems into the display TVs.

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“Having a partner that understands us and what we’re trying to do in our environment is key. Spinitar delivered perfectly on that.”

— Gita Govahi, USC, Assistant Dean – Marshall School of Business

The Results

After breaking ground a little less than two years prior, Fertitta Hall was officially unveiled and opened to students and faculty in September 2016. It instantly became an invaluable experience for student activity, innovation, and engaged learning. Fertitta Hall provides smart classrooms, lecture halls, an interactive video wall, and fifty-one (51) breakout rooms for Marshall undergraduate students. The Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies occupies the 5th floor, bringing faculty and clinical mentorship closer to the many students taking entrepreneurship courses. The building also houses admission, student services, and student advising1.

 

Staying in to Study

Students have already embraced the vision of community behind the building, according to Dean Ellis: “We did not want students to come here to go to class and then turn around and go back to their dorms. Rather, we wanted them to stay here, to work together in groups, have something to eat, and then go to class again. That is exactly what has happened.”

President Nikias noted that the Fertitta’s have forged a tradition of excellence at USC, as their three children, Victoria, Kelly-Ann, and Frank IV are all proud Trojans. Fertitta Hall helps expand this tradition, he said, by attracting the most talented business students and faculty from around the world, ensuring that the school’s ascension in rank and renown continues well into the future.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about the building,” Frank Fertitta told the crowd. “What’s important is what goes on inside the building. It’s our privilege today to give back to the institution that has given us so much.”2

Spinitar completed the Fertitta Hall project within budget and ahead of timeline. Per Spinitar’s gold-level support agreement, for the first three months after the building opened, a member of the Spinitar team was onsite at Fertitta Hall to ensure maximum uptime–troubleshooting and fixing any issues that arose. The Spinitar team continues to visit Fertitta Hall twice per year to perform preventative maintenance.

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