Last summer, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame moved to a brand-new building near its previous home in Springfield, MA. The new 18-acre site includes the Hall of Fame, offices, retail space, restaurants, a visitor information center, hotel, community center, and underground parking garage.
The concept for the new Hall of Fame was for it to be fully interactive and engaging for a broad international audience. The main objectives from the outset were to provide a unique, educational, and enjoyable visitor experience for fans of all ages; to use reliable and easy-to-maintain high-end technology; to preserve the museum collection, including the original typewritten document detailing the very first rules of the sport; and to support local, regional, and community involvement.
There were many key players on the team. Gwathmey Siegel, as design architect, was responsible for the initial building design and worked with the exhibit team to integrate design elements into the architecture. BH+A, the architect of record, carried the architectural development through bid documents to completion of construction. Scenic Technologies, the exhibit designers, in conjunction with the Basketball Hall of Fame curatorial staff, were responsible for scripting, researching, and designing the exhibition.
Electrosonic won the contract for the audio-visual system integration and installation of a system designed by Thoughtful Designs. Electrosonic then partnered with Cortina Productions and NBA Entertainment to provide a complete hardware and production package. Exhibit fabricator was Design Craftsmen.
The centerpiece of the Hall is a scoreboard featuring four video screens and an extensive sound system for playback of custom-produced program material, with the capability for showing user-supplied video for special events. Acoustically, the audio system was a challenge, as the main structure is a dome with a hardwood floor.
Many exhibits illustrate various aspects of the game and its history using video, audio, and interactive experiences. One exhibit shows an announcer calling a play from a famous game, and then allows the visitor to record their own voice making the same call. Another puts the visitor onto a TV set to record a sports report using a TelePrompTer. Other computer-based interactives teach the visitor different coaches' strategies; let the visitor search a database of famous game highlights; and learn about the different skills of famous forwards, guards, and centers.
The two theatres display large-screen images projected by Sanyo XF-30 video projectors onto Stewart screens. One of the theatres uses the Stewart Ultramatte projection screen, which is optimized for use as a front- and rear-projection screen at the same time.
Electrosonic SD Video Servers are extensively used, and a MediaSonic (a newly formed division of Electrosonic) ESCAN Scheduler show control program and MediaSonic FrENDs are used to automatically coordinate the start-up and shut-down of all exhibits, and also to control the visitor interactives. The ESCAN system is self-monitoring and reports any technical equipment failures. Exhibition switch-on is automatic and the system shuts down at the correct time every night but also allows these times to be changed via a simple user interface.
The MediaSonic FrEND is a network peripheral device which supports multiple serial and discrete control channels. All control channels are supported under a single TCP/IP connection, making control system design and layout very simple. With full driver support for the ESCAN control software, the FrEND is part of the audio-visual network, and has a built in timecode reader and generator which allows it to perform synchronous events across multiple units.
There are nine stations with computer interactive displays driven by ELO Touch touchscreen monitors. These stations all have the CPUs remotely located in the control room, and they feed the 1024×768 graphics signal to the remote touchscreens via Magenta Research Multiview active CAT 5 extenders. Video display devices include Digital View LCD monitors, Panasonic CRT monitors, and Pioneer plasma screens. Fast Forward Video Omega Digital Video Recorders are also used for the interactives involving recorded video of visitors and also for the main scoreboard show for full-motion JPEG-quality images.
Other equipment included: BSS 9088ii Soundweb DSP based audio processors, Symetrix Audio processors, QSC CX series amplifiers, Allen and Heath GR8 eight-channel amplifiers, Roland and Alcorn McBride digital audio playback products, AMX touch panels, Christie Vivid Green video projectors, Clarity Wildcat Projection Cubes, Cambridge Audio Microworks speakers, JBL Control Series speakers, Mackie MR4 speakers, and PAS speakers.
Installation began in June 2002 and was completed in time for the grand opening on September 27. An estimated 14,000 people visited the new building in its first weekend. The Hall's director of sports media, Howard M. Davis, said that the entire weekend went extremely well, and the exhibition helped bring a lot of attention to the new facility.