Securing Tiffany’s Jewels

Securing Tiffany’s Jewels

tiffanys_at-a-glance

Our Challenge

The security industry is one that’s comprised of various elements coming together. There is generally a Security Vendor who quarterbacks selling and planning the job, then sub-contracts installation, often to more than one trade, and then outsources monitoring contracts for ongoing security services. These parent companies can be quite large, so the channels of communication and detail management can be extremely challenging to handle, and confusion abounds. There’s also a hefty detachment between the vendor and the ground level of the build, resulting in less attention to quality than normal oversight generally lends. Particularly for larger scale projects that involve a plethora of subsystems coming together, details abound and there needs to be an install/programming partner on the ground who’s tapped in on a detail level, works well with the general contractor and other trades on site, and can solve highly technical problems on the fly.

Xprt is all about detail management. Integrated subsystems often don’t talk with each other without a good deal of care and attention, and general contractors are presented with a similar challenge managing trades on a job site. Projects with remote management, and many trades are not uncommon, but retail store openings can add another layer of complexity and pressure. Retail is an hour to hour commercial exercise, where just an hour lost to failed point of sales systems can cost thousands in revenue, and customers to boot. Weeks spent on constructing a new store are incredibly costly. Malls also don’t like shrouding covering their units, so they strongly encourage fast build cycles. That ‘in and out’ pace that results in the build places ample pressure on GC’s and their trades. Pressure creates fraying nerves, and the operators on site easily fall prey to conflict.

tiffanys_site-2
The Holt Renfrew under construction in Pacific Centre in Vancouver houses several branded boutiques, including this Tiffany & Co. store.

The Solution

As an experienced systems integrator, Xprt’s skill set is ideal for this challenge role. Alongside other integrated services, Xprt offers security install, programming and integration services. By acing as the sole provider for all low voltage (digital and electronic) work on a site, continuity, detail management, and integration with flanking systems are all vastly eased.

Cooperation between trades is not only one of the dimensions that affect a build. Clear and detailed documentation, properly shared amongst the various stakeholders, goes an incredibly long way to predicting problems, aligning physical positioning, and creating fluidity for the GC’s project.

Shared goal alignment, and the sacrifice of time and effort that comes with truly sharing wider project goals is another factor in promoting a cooperative approach to success. Project goals as described by the architect would seem lofty to any one trade in isolation – they invariably require contribution from many parties in concert. When trades operate in silos and focus on their own bottom lines, that might satisfy their company’s bookkeeper in keeping costs down, but it’s a disservice to the client. Xprt is a partner who believes firmly in growing our business by leaving a trail of great success behind us that we can point to to earn new work. By consistently going out of our way to appreciate and cooperatively work towards the overall project goals, we make ourselves a highly-valuable build partner, and win repeat business as a result. Winning over as many stakeholders on a project at the same time is our goal.

tiffanys_alignment
Alignment, both literally and figuratively, is at the heart of properly coordinated efforts by many trades as part of a wider project.

The approach being described above is Integrated Project Delivery. It’s a facet of design-build management that Xprt is a champion of, because it makes sense on every level. We want to be aligned with highly successful projects and clients alike, and going out of our way to make the project successful is not hollow rhetoric – it’s a way of doing business, and a pattern for our own processes. As a systems integrator, Xprt’s effort to refine detailed shop drawings that communicate our install plans extremely clearly are a key example of extra effort that few competitors offer.

tiffanys_pretesting
Pre-testing and configuring security devices on site, leading before construction dependancies are met, allows Xprt to stay ahead of schedule in the early stages of the build.

This specific Tiffany & Co. store is a boutique built within a Holt Renfrew department store in Pacific Centre (Vancouver, BC). Xprt’s efforts were interleaved within many builds taking place in tandem, and the Tiffany’s build was completed ahead of schedule. Xprt’s installers were one of the few crews to meet the tight, initially-supplied deadlines of the project, often working with extenuated circumstances, even ahead of actual construction dependancies. This makes sense for us to do, as we try to work efficiently by attending with few, well planned visits. We come in organized to hit many areas of a project in a visit. In this project we even managed to accomplish pre-work that made it easier for the GC to align our and other trades specific efforts. Calling out areas of need with signage, and even spools of cable fastened and labelled before running their final leg, help a GC to envision and call out impending installation, easing scheduling and avoiding misses.

tiffanys_marble-floor
The 3/4″ thick marble floor tiles at Tiffany’s were a uniquely thick and delicate surface to work with, and required due care by our installers.

Xprt’s installers are used to working on high end interiors, like multi-million dollar homes. We come ready to provide a high degree of finish, meeting and frequently exceeding expectation for finished quality. Finished quality also requires a service strategy that will allow access to, and service of components without damage. Our installers are well-versed, and well equipped with the right fasteners to get the job done professionally. This Tiffany’s store features 3/4” thick marble floors, and several sensors needed to be installed in the floors, requiring due care and attention to the material. Another example of a nonstandard install circumstances that were handled adeptly were in and on the store’s safe. Safes require obvious care in security, and definitely require the right tools and equipment to avoiding damaging the workings of the safe itself.

Once install and programming are complete, we need to confirm that the systems are working. The worst case for a retailer is to incur a business interruption due to inadequate testing, so it’s a key aspect of success. We run through an extensive test procedure that exhaustively hits all the bases. A test procedure cannot be easily made both effectively exhaustive and standardized to all jobs though. We look carefully at the overall project, and script a procedure that efficiently runs through all the operations, and catches all the possible areas of failure we can brainstorm. Only then is a retailer truly ready to open shop with confidence and continuity.

The Results

Tiffany’s is one of the best-secured retailers in Pacific Centre, enjoying a high-end system, deployed on schedule, with effectively zero problems occurring after handover. In the stereotypically chaotic world of retail, that level of care and detail are necessary, but rarely carried off as adeptly as on this project.

 


Thanks To Our Partners

Xprt’s efforts at Tiffany’s would not have been possible without the diligent work of our partners, including Govan Brown Construction Managers, who were accommodating and detail-oriented. Their cooperation in allowing Xprt’s team to accomplish pre-emptive work to ensure we stayed on timeline both helped us remain on target, and allowed the Tiffany’s space to be completed well ahead of any others in the department store.

Reinventing Time

Reinventing Time

Wilson_At a glance@2x

Our Challenge

Being heavily involved in various businesses and organizations, a busy family life, and having an eye on retirement, a family approached us to help solve some serious time management demands. For years they had relied on an executive assistant to handle aligning their calendars and keeping bulletin sized whiteboards up to date in three separate locations in Vancouver. But as technology developed, they wondered about replacing that laborious system with a far more streamlined digital one.

Whiteboard calendar
Our client had been using dry erase calendars that were tediously updated in three separate locations.

The Solution

Our minds immediately went to video wall, and went slightly beyond the basic requirement to include touch interactivity allowing the family to do a bit more than just look at it. We began researching available technology, and didn’t expect what we found.

There were three factors that came together to conspire against us, where a single platform that possessed all three was simply not yet on market. We needed a large enough video display surface to represent a full year of calendar  information at a readable size – either a video wall, or a large single screen. We also needed a density of pixels or resolution that would allow us to place text at a small enough size without the pixels themselves affecting font legibility, or making it feel antiquated and low resolution. And finally, we needed touch interactivity so that the experience could allow a family member to navigate, delve deeper, update and control the experience endemically. This third requirement was also a way of introducing a great deal more value to the family than simply building in large screens, and hoping that the information that’s on them is enough at any given moment (calendar entries tend to vary greatly in form). A touchable video wall represented a platform of inherent value to us ad the family.

The greatest problem at the outset of the project was that research returned significant red lights. Firstly, video wall screens (that have no bezels and fit tightly together) were not available in a resolution that was remotely close to that of standard computer monitor. Video walls are mainly about display from distances, and not representing details up close, so fonts viewed at arm’s length on the screens would be coarse and tough on the eyes. Similarly, there was no such thing as a tile-ready touchscreen. However touch interaction could be incorporated in various ways. We decided to use a brand new new, Canadian-made technology that requires a bezel be custom mounted around the perimeter of the 6-screen assembly. In order to achieve a smooth, contiguous, easily cleanable surface, we looked to encase the screens in a large sheet of tempered glass.

Once the right hardware platform was uncovered, we began testing capabilities and identifying specific obstacles remaining. Given the space available in the install location, we were able to decided upon an arrangement of 6 screens in a 3×2 arrangement, and identified an impending challenge – the available width of the install space was marginally larger than the total width of the three screens. From that point, our challenge was two-fold: how to fit the graphic user interface into the screens, and how to fit the screens into the space.

Mpango Screen
Occupying a large amount of wall space, it was important to design a the colour palette of the software that avoided a bright glow, and integrated within the surrounding millwork attractively.

Although development of the software platform had begun many months before, we now had real circumstances to inform more specific decisions about the features of the system. Our user interface (UI) design team established a minimum type size for the screen resolution we had, which allowed them to work out the right balance for the amount of information to represent on the screen. With 6 screens and 12 months in the year, we allocated two months on each screen, and also created a second view option with one month on each screen for a 6-month view option with greater event detail displayed. We had already undergone a process of determining how calendar information can be represented, and determined that this use case begged for a familiar arrangement, but with appointment density represented visually, so that the user could see a busy, day, week, or month organically in front of them. We arrived at a way to ensure that the visual impact of more appointments was clearly apparent even at the widest view, from across the room. We also incorporated a way to drill into shorter time periods. Drilling in conjures a week view with a great deal of event information to be brought up with the tap of a finger, and a day view naturally followed from there, displaying even more information about the day’s events. The software was built upon an existing Microsoft Exchange server with the calendar data, so the information is always accurate and up to date. This was inherent in the initial concept brought to us by the client, and entirely eliminates the problems of their past, manual methods.

The installation was a delicate process. We had incorporated the newest of the available interactive touch options – a bezel system from Christie Digital that illuminates the surface of the screen with infrared light and tracks the shadows that fingers cast within it. We needed to design a system that would allow for accurate positioning of the bezel relative to the screens, with adjustable depth. The depth of the system was crucial to the touch sensitivity, and setting at the sweet spot would need to be done after it had been hung.

Calendard Wall cross section

We encased the screens behind a panel of tempered glass so that the finger has a firm and continuous surface to travel upon. In combination, these systems comprised a great deal of weight, so we enlisted the help of our glazing partner, Atlas Meridian Glass Works, to engineer the supports to handle the glazing and bezel, and had their staff install the hefty assembly.

The General Contractor on the wider project, Rusco Construction, is among the top class of builders in BC, with an unending patience for detail in their meticulous projects. With the help of our partners, our design team worked out tolerances for the interleaved millwork installation of the piece in sequences that involved several steps, rotation of large parts of the assembly within the existing millwork structure, and insertion into a carefully prepared cavity.

The surgical installation was entirely successful, involving two days, and about six staff at various stages throughout the process.

Calendar_Install in Progress
LEFT: Firing up the screens for the first time after installation. RIGHT: Fitting the custom EH Price vent grilles in place.

The Results

The beautifully integrated technology into an otherwise exceptional architectural space is something to behold. Standing in front of the calendar offers a very notable sense of control over information. The user interface is contrastingly simple to operate as well. Navigating the calendar is simple and effective, adding to the feeling that the user is in complete control over a large amount of information at once.

The family and their support staff immediately enjoyed having a dashboard with a great deal more information than the previous dry-erase posters offered.

With real calendar data in place, one can see the organically growing density of calendar appointments and events as they are planned, and like a wave they move into the future. It’s becomes readily apparent where there are logical slots to plan new events in – the least dense places. The feeling of being on top of an endlessly tight schedule is rewarding to all involved, and contemplating future plans is now done eyes wide open, with confidence that the information is accurate and up to date.

With this system in place, Xprt has ushers our client into a new era of computing, where few others have yet to venture: information density represented on large scale interactive surface. Almost nowhere in existence yet is there a wall that offers arm’s length data management, and distance viewing for a secondary purpose. As evidenced by the lack of hardware available to suit this purpose, it’s a likely future, but a rare present reality. With the inevitable onset of less costly, higher-resolution screens, and more cable video processing, we fully expect that groups will collaborate on interactive video wall systems not unlike the one that we created.

Wilson_Calendar Wall_1
The completed software, hardware, millwork and surrounding architecture come together with an enviable fit and finish.

Huge Thanks to Our Partners

This immense project would not have been possible without the detailed coordination and contributions from the following partners:

  • Tactual Systems – research partner
  • Atlas Meridian Glass Works – glazing and fabrication
  • Rusco Construction – site coordination, contractor
  • Westmark Mechanical – custom vent grilles

Horticulture & Acoustics

Not Your Garden-Variety Acoustics

Sage_At a glance

Our Challenge

Saje Natural Wellness is an operation that’s all about naturalism, and their spaces possess a strong reference to it in the form of gorgeous horticultural installations. For their boardroom at their head office in Vancouver, Saje’s interior designer Jennifer Dunn decided to create a stunning drop ceiling, clad in preserved Reindeer Moss from ByNature Design, with a light well running all around it, making the room pervasively natural with a cool, modern tone.

The Preliminary Room
The space was identified early on as problematically reflective. Square walls, concrete floor, and glass surfaces planned were all red flags for us.

Functionally, the room is like most boardrooms, where the activities include face to face meetings, presentations, teleconferences and video conferences. In each case, communications are key to the effectiveness of the space. Even two people speaking in a room are directly affected by the acoustics of the space, where a conversation can happen with ease and comfort, or it can be unintelligible and discordant due to poor physical acoustics. Once you complicate matters with teleconferencing, poor acoustics are picked up and compounded by telephone transmission, and hearing what’s being said in the room becomes challenging for remote callers.

Acoustics can be fickle, and are entirely invisible to the eye. Most rooms, are built with little acoustic consideration at all, and a modern space with many flat surfaces can have a very hollow sound. Saje’s boardroom presented that challenge quite directly, with a long and narrow shape, multiple glass surfaces, and a large video screen on one end. However the installation of reindeer moss in the ceiling offered an undeniable opportunity.

The Solution

When we learned that the ceiling was to be clad in moss, we began wondering about its acoustic benefits, ad reached out to the supplier, Vancouver company ByNature Design. Because acoustics are significant factor to interior building technologies, ByNature had already researched the acoustic properties of the product. They had worked with BCIT to properly test acoustics of the moss, and were ready with the report, and eager to delve deeper with us. Partners like ByNature are fabulous to meet, already on a path of innovation in their own field. When we scratched a little further with them, they were excited to help.

Unfortunately, the acoustics of the moss are effective in a range that absorbs little of the most problematic wavelengths that effect vocal intelligibility (the understandability of speech). We were presented with a need to introduce more sound absorption in the room, or face the likelihood of poor teleconferencing quality. Designer, Jennifer Dunn was reticent to hang acoustic panels on the walls of the room, because it would impact both the Saje’s interior brand, and reduce space in an already narrow room. We were increasingly focussed on that ceiling.

The Guys from ByNature Design preparing for the installation
The guys from ByNature Design preparing to work with their preserved architectural moss, which is neatly adhered to the acoustic panels.

In open dialog with ByNature, we were invited to explore ways that their product could be married to other substrates, and brought them a 2’ Primacoustic fibreglass acoustic panel to see if they could clad it in moss. They were able to adjust their standard assembly to use these panels as the moss’s substrate, and the result is a highly absorptive surface that entirely conceals the 2×4 foot panels from view, making the surface appear entirely contiguous because of the sponginess of the moss.

In order to measure the effect, an BCIT’s acoustic engineer was brought in to do audio testing before and after the installation of the moss and panels, and to compare the known acoustic properties of the moss with the new combined version. The results were a glowing success, where the added range of absorption  provided by the panels helped significantly to reduce reverberation that would have directly affected vocal intelligibility.

Saje Boardroom
The finished Boardroom is a jewel of Jennifer Dunn’s gorgeous natural environment, and a high performance space thanks to our collaboration.

The Results

The benefits of this installation technique and collaborative solution are significant:

  • continuous acoustic surface, offering an attractive alternative over exposed panels
  • completing the range of acoustic absorption for architectural moss with acoustic panels offers an enhancement option for ByNature’s product
  • simultaneous layered installation of both components reduced total cost what were two required components to achieve Saje’s goal
  • there was no aesthetic impact to adding the acoustic panels behind the moss
  • there is no visual evidence of an acoustic treatment, where there would have otherwise been visible elements added onto the walls
  • Xprt now has a go to suggestion for attractively adding ideal acoustics into presentable environments

 

BCIT Audio Testing
BCIT tested acoustics before and after the installation, confirming the dramatic improvement upon sound reverberation in the room.

Thanks to Our Partners

We benefitted a great deal by working closely with ByNature to collaboratively solve a significant build challenge and meet Saje’s goal of a high performing, attractive central Boardroom. We want to thank ByNature Design, Saje Natural Wellness, designer Jennifer Dunn, and acoustics supplier Primacoustics for being great partners in achieving this innovative, reproducible solution.