A four-month technology modernization project in the historic Marin County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission chambers is substantially complete.
Operating with a budget of $460,000, County staff supervised the addition of new high-definition video monitors, HD video cameras, speakers, microphones, lighting controls, control boards and other electronic equipment. Construction, which began in December 2013, was initiated with the goal of replacing outdated and malfunctioning audio-video equipment to improve the viewing and listening experience for the audience inside the chambers or those watching a meeting on a webcast or public access television.
Members of the public received their first glance at the new large screen monitors and experienced the new enhanced sound system during the Feb. 24 Planning Commission and Feb. 28 Board of Supervisors meetings. Most of the new system was functioning or available by the March 11 Board meeting.
The most visible changes were the installation of two 90-inch wall-mounted monitors along with two 60-inch wall-mounted monitors. Previously, County employees and guests making electronic presentations used a pull-down screen on one side of the chambers, resulting in limited visibility for the audience. The upgrades also included the addition of an assistive listening system and wireless microphones. In addition, contractors performed long-needed repairs to various furnishings near the dais/platform area of the chambers.
The Marin County Civic Center is a National Historic Landmark designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The project was only the second major technological upgrade to the chambers since the Civic Center opened in 1962. Several County departments, user groups and the Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center Conservancy were consulted during system design development. Special care was given to hiding wires, conduit and other infrastructure items to preserve the historical character of the chambers. Careful planning and construction scheduling allowed for continued use of the chambers and web broadcasting of public meetings, including those of the Board of Supervisors.
Raesfeld Construction of Petaluma was contracted to install the new system. Angel Electric and One Work Place were subcontracted for electrical and audio work, respectively.
“The workers could only make progress whenever the chambers were not being used for public meetings, so many long hours were spent on the project during nights and weekends,” County project manager Jeff Wong said. “They did a great job.”
Staff from the Board of Supervisors office, the Clerk of the Board, the County Administrator’s Office, the Community Development Agency, the Department of Public Works and Information Services & Technology Department participated in the planning and implementing of the renovations. Funding came from the County’s Capital Improvement Program.