The newly-opened Library of Birmingham
UK - The breath-taking architecture and spectacular facilities of the new Library of Birmingham drew the attention of the press when it opened in September 2013. Sited in Birmingham's Centenary Square, the library is a major part of Birmingham City Council's 'Big City Plan' to regenerate the city centre and draw people to Birmingham from the wider world.

Described by Francine Houben of Mecanoo, its Belgian-based architects, as a 'people's palace', the complex has been designed as a major cultural destination and sets a new standard for libraries in the 21st century.

The Library is joined to the existing Birmingham Repertory Theatre with which it shares a common entrance and foyer, café and restaurant facilities and a new flexible 300-seat Studio Theatre. The Studio is a flexible venue which caters for a prolific and wide-ranging program of productions, events, functions, exhibitions and community activities. It is used by both organisations and significantly expands the range and quantity of work Birmingham Rep can produce and present.

Stage Electrics was appointed by Carillion Construction to work alongside theatre consultants, Charcoalblue, as the systems integrator for the Studio Theatre within the massive £188.8m project, and was responsible for transforming the conceptual design agreed with the client into an efficient working solution. As part of the process, Stage Electrics installed and commissioned a full complement of communications, lighting, audio and video systems, taking into account the Studio's multi-function role.

Within the Studio, the auditorium is served by a bank of retractable seating and a seating pit. The technical control room accommodating stage management and stage lighting and audiovisual operators is located behind the seating at mezzanine level.

A Slingco tension wire grid extends over the Studio, providing a safe access floor for stage lighting and scenery rigging, while stage lighting bars and audio equipment can be rigged in any position above the grid thanks to the distribution of customised facilities panels.

Stage Electrics delivered the Studio's full communications package which includes live and presentation audio, video distribution and relay, wired and wireless telex communications, as well as a GDS cue light system and stage management console. The Stage Electrics team, led by Chris Brant, was responsible for integrating these systems with the building-wide Bosch show relay and paging system provided by electrical contractors, Emcor.

Stage Electrics also installed an FM-based assisted listening system and a comprehensive multi-zone, phased array loop system for the hard of hearing. The latter was customised to meet the challenges presented by the retractable seating and necessitated a high level of coordination with seating contractor, Hussey, to successfully achieve the optimal working levels.

All loose equipment for performance sound, including loudspeakers, processing and amplifiers and mixing solutions, portable effects, cabling and playback solutions, were supplied by Stage Electrics to a very high specification. The system was based around a Digico SD8 mixing desk with various rack options running through a Yamaha DSP processor and feeding Lab Gruppen amplification with an EM Acoustics loudspeaker system.

Charcoalblue designed what Stage Electrics' sales engineer, Saul Eagles, describes as "a nice, flexible solution" for the lighting. A system of moveable internally wired ladder bars, manufactured by Stage Electrics, are attached to the vertical struts which support the tension wire grid and can be moved to any position required. Doughty Engineering provided Stage Electrics with a number of boom arms which can be inserted into Unistrut channels embedded in the Studio's wooden walls to create further rigging points.

Charcoalblue chose an ETC solution as the best-suited and most robust system for the demanding, multi-purpos

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