Posted in education on April 5, 2016 12:52 pm EDT

Prepping Your Mind for Technical Booth Design

This vital tech component of the worship space does not have to be an aesthetics killer -- if architects, AVL designers and integrators work together. A treatise drawing on the end-user's perspective.











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TAGS: architectural design, avl design, collaboration, new build, renovation, tech booth design,


By Shaun Miller

If you have ever dealt with real estate, you’ve heard the expression, “Location, location, location.” Well, that is very true for the tech booth, too.

The tech booth. The aesthetics killer for architects and the Alamo or last stand for integrators and tech people. The push and pull that goes with this area is the epitome of compromise. Thankfully, as someone who has been a church staffer in the past, I have seen church leaders discovering the importance of production and quality. With that change in thought, I can say we've come a long way from the days of equipment booths being tucked away with sliding windows or balcony alcoves far away from the people. Now that churches are getting up to speed, what are the next steps for church design professionals?

Design comes first

First and foremost, talking about the design and layout needs to happen early on in and building or remodeling process. As architects and integrators, we have to help lead the conversation with the church, helping them brainstorm where they hope to be going. I recently worked with a church that was putting together a master plan for its satellite campuses. They wanted to make one plan and then stamp them out. That’s great, way to keep the branding and costs down in my opinion. The buildings were done in phases that allowed for the sanctuary to grow as the campuses did, starting at 500 seats and phasing up to 1,500. The problem with this was the booth stayed the same in all of the phases. My issue was that a church of 500 has different needs than a church of 1,500. The booth needed to either be bigger from the get-go or be able to phase as well. These are the kind of things we need to help flesh out, because I fully understand how seats matter too.

Auburn Grace Community Church; image courtesy of Clarity AVL.

Key considerations …

I believe there are three key things we need to remember beyond the topic of future-proofing the booth. Those are construction quality, location, and cable management.

Construction quality is vitally important; I cannot stress that enough. I have seen too many booths built on a shoestring budget. I am not advocating for granite and marble by any means, but the prefab countertop at Home Depot isn’t going to cut it. While I am not Bob Villa (can one still make a Bob Villa reference in 2016?) I know that those counters are meant to have a lot more support than I have seen them given. Remember that these booths do need to be relatively utilitarian, and they are holding incredibly expensive equipment. The booth at my home church has a custom built top in it that I thought was well supported. We had a touring band come through and plop their sound board on our desk—it has had a dip in it ever since. You can easily see the bowing that caused me to have to shim our console so it wouldn’t rock back and forth until we got it fixed. All that to say, spec something that will hold up to tech people using the area.

If you have ever dealt with real estate, you’ve heard the expression location, location, location. Well, that is very true for the tech booth, too. Being on the ground floor is great, and I would demand it from almost any church I was going to mix in, but that is not all. Being under a balcony, behind a pillar, or too far off to one side can be detrimental, as well. Those in the booth need a good sight line to the stage so they can see what is happening and anticipate things. Having to look around a column or keep walking out from under a balcony to listen can become a hindrance. The final look and location is dictated by the design of the room, but every effort should be given to avoiding known obstacles.  continued >>