NEW YORK: A next generation-Internet2 Distance Learning Facility created by the Walters-Storyk Design Group is about to go on-line at NYC’s Hunter College Gene Center. Driven by high-speed Internet2 transmission, the new complex will spearhead real-time collaborative experimentation and teaching projects within the international Gene Research community.
Dr. Robert Dottin, Ph.D., Director of the Center for the Study of Gene Structure & Function reports that the new Distance Learning Facility presents formidable interactive communication advances enabling scientists to exchange, observe and discuss complex data with extremely high visual and audio quality and absolute real-time connectivity. “Internet2 speed, reliability and clarity will enable us to virtually share the same laboratory with colleagues at over 200 universities around the world,” Dr. Dottin said.
To transform 1100 sq. ft. on the 3rd floor of the Hunter College campus at Park Ave. and 69th Street in Manhattan into an interactive conference room/studio, architect/acoustician John Storyk introduced a variety of solutions to NYC’s noise-intensive environment. The WSDG team worked closely with Dr. Dottin, Facility Manager Carlos Lijeron and Hunter Gene Center Program Manager Jeanne Waxman, to optimize the space and meet all of their specific design requirements.
“Because this facility will generate highly technical dialogues, we drew heavily from our extensive experience in developing critical listening and viewing environments for professional broadcast, performance and recording studio environments,” Storyk said. “These include a modified ‘room-within-a-room’ program with soundproof doors, state-of-the-art acoustic ceiling treatments and dual interior windows to create a ‘sound lock’ similar though on a smaller scale, to our solution for the new Jazz At Lincoln Center production facilities. We also recommended a moveable ‘sound curtain’ to further screen street noise leakage.”
In addition to acoustical and full facility planning, WSDG worked closely with the Hunter College team to develop a unique collection of multi-purpose furniture. Wired for ‘full function’ computer, phone, audio and video connectivity, these eight two-person ‘smart desks’ are capable of multiple configurations including a 20 ft. long linear or horse-shoe shaped conference table.
The Hunter College Gene Center Internet2 Distance Learning Facility is comprised of two conference rooms: A, 20′- 6″ x 26′-2″ 537 sq. ft. and B, a 11′-6″ x 20′-8″ 235 sq. ft. “satellite” room to accommodate smaller meetings and overflow; an office and an equipment room. The facility features a 42″ flat panel monitor, projectors, retractable projection screen, infra-red guided video camera for robotic coverage,wireless microphones and a full-range of DVD, CD, PowerPoint and related connectivity. A sophisticated “mobile studio” has been designed to provide full audio/video/internet connectivity to individual labs within the Hunter College Gene Center. It will monitor realtime experiments ranging from behavioral studies of live lab mice to digital microscope imagery of compound gene structure activity, and transmit live coverage to colleges within the network. The entire complex can be controlled by a single Crestron touch screen mounted on the lectern in Conference A, or via a computer in the adjacent support office.
“In 1998 WSDG created a Distance Learning Center for the Hunter College School of Social Work at 79th Street and Park Ave.,” reports Facility Manager Carlos Lijeron. “In researching design candidates for our new facility we spoke with the Hunter staff that continues to use that installation successfully today. John Storyk and the WSDG team drew extremely high marks.
“We found WSDG project manager Joshua Morris extremely helpful in coordinating and following through on the countless complex issues related to the installation. HVAC consultant Marcy Ramos and lighting/electrical designer Robert Wolsch are clearly experts in their crafts. The entire process was handled with the highest degree of professionalism. We are extremely pleased with the plan and installation WSDG devised and executed for us,” Lijeron adds.

“It is extremely gratifying to be invited back on new projects by any client,” John Storyk concludes. “The research being done at Hunter College is particularly meaningful. We hope our work on this new facility will play an important role in helping them realize their goals.”