By Erik Beyer
Guest Blogger for Tony the AV Guy & AV Bend
Whether it’s a major project around your home or a major project you have been assigned to manage at work, when it comes time to find people and companies to get the job done, the choices and process can seem overwhelming.
The Key Players in the Game
In the commercial AVL world, we come across many players in the game. They may include:
- the architect,
- the consultants,
- our own engineers,
- maybe even an owner’s representative, and
- a general contractor if the project is more involved.
Then within those fields of work, there can be additional certifications and choices to make based on how elaborate and detailed you want or need the design and project to be.
My Experience with a Major Project
I was working with a client who, at one point, wanted to engage with me in designing and installing new Audio, Video, and Theatrical Lighting (AVL) equipment. This was a major project from the beginning, but because I was the first point of contact for this project, I had to spend a lot of time evaluating what was going to be required. After a couple of initial meetings, I had to recommend getting an architect involved, who would eventually get a MEP contractor involved and then a builder, as this project began to take shape in the planning and programming stages. My role in this project now extended beyond just AVL design and coordination, but also coordinating with other trades.
Not all AVL projects are that involved. Some are more streamlined upgrades and all that is needed is new equipment. This simplifies things greatly and reduces the number of people involved. In many cases, however, an electrician must get involved to run new conduit, electrical outlets or just moving those things around to accommodate the new system.
It is important to realize that just because the technology in your space needs updating doesn’t mean other trades may not be involved. The size and scope of any project will ultimately determine who the players are.
If you are new to the process of managing a construction project involving AVL or just new to the design and construction process, I hope this gives you some insight and a little direction to learning more of what you need to know.
Key Players and Key Responsibilities
The owner is you, the end-user, the customer. You have the ultimate say on the project as you are responsible for and how it’s communicated to the subcontractors. In some larger projects an owner’s representative (or owner’s rep) is appointed from a third party company or designated within the organization.
Project Management Company
A project management company may be hired on larger projects where an architect and general contractor will eventually get involved. The project management company will help with the initial steps of evaluating and selecting architectural firms, general contractors and subcontractors. They will also become an integral part of the overall process and make sure budgeting is on track, help with permitting, researching other steps required to get the project completed and manage overall communication with everyone involved. The project management team can be very important on larger projects, especially when working with an organizational committee made up of volunteers, such as in a church.
The architect is the person (or firm) who works closely with the owner to determine the physical design, look, layout, and functionality of all spaces. In many cases the architect will bring on the consultants for AVL, MEP, structural and others, to complete the design as a whole. They will produce drawings, or renderings of the concepts as they come to fruition for consideration by the owner. If there is any wall moving, or space needing to be physically changed to accommodate your new AVL systems, an architect is required to make sure it’s done properly.
The AVL consultant is typically one person but depending on the consulting firm and scope of work, a separate theatrical lighting consultant may be brought in for more specialty applications. The AVL consultant will coordinate with the owner on their needs and budget, and work with the architect on the physical aspect of the design and integration process, coordinating with the other consultants and trades. The AVL consultant will be responsible for developing a scope of work, initial sets of drawings for the architect and for client approval and for bidding purposes. Upon completion of a project, the AVL consultant will typically be responsible for commissioning of the systems, or at the very least coordinating with the AVL contractor to do so based on the consultant’s design.
Other Trades Consulting
Although this could arguably be its own category, or even part of the AVL consulting, acoustics can play a key role in a project. The acoustics design and consulting of a space is great to have in a new construction or if a major remodel is happening. But if the project is more of an equipment and system upgrade, an acoustician is not typically required. If an architect is involved on a smaller project, many times they can provide some basic direction and feedback on the acoustic properties of a space, enough to help you decide if an acoustic consultant will be required.
Depending on the project, there may be other specialty consultants that could tie into your AVL system, such as scoreboards, sports equipment and interactive signage such as digital signage and wayfinding. In some cases, the AVL contractor can handle these scopes of work, but that is not always the case.
The general contractor oversees all the subcontractors involved in the construction phases of the project and is responsible for the final outcome and completion of the project.
A subcontractor is a contractor working under the general contractor through a subcontract. There are times, depending on the owner’s decision or the overall scope of work, that the AVL contractor may be contracted directly by the owner. In this case, they are responsible for making sure their work and designs are fully coordinated with the general contractor to ensure proper scheduling and completion of other trades for a successful completion time.
This completes our overview of the key players involved in an AVL project. And again, if you are new to the process of managing a construction project involving AVL or just new to the design and construction process, I hope this gives you some insight and a little direction. Our next post will move the process forward by discussing the tools and resources your key players will use and also how you can help them by communicating well, managing expectations and participating in planning meetings.