M/E Firm Designs Its Own Telecom Space

When Newcomb & Boyd, an Atlanta-based M/E engineering firm, decided that its building was too small and outdated, the firm set out to lease and design a new space. But instead of providing a typical specification, the firm's engineers decided to set up the space in such a way as to showcase the M/E systems, particularly telecommunications, as an instructional demonstration for clients and y...

10/01/2002


When Newcomb & Boyd, an Atlanta-based M/E engineering firm, decided that its building was too small and outdated, the firm set out to lease and design a new space. But instead of providing a typical specification, the firm's engineers decided to set up the space in such a way as to showcase the M/E systems, particularly telecommunications, as an instructional demonstration for clients and younger engineers.

For example, partially open ceilings highlight mechanical systems while the telecommunications room is visually displayed to show the advantages of a closely coordinated, well-designed space for what is now the most critical system in any business environment. Elsewhere, indirect lighting minimizes glare, special lighting systems demonstrate lighting designs and sound masking provides acoustical privacy.

Talking telecom

The telecommunications room is adjacent to a primary circulation pathway, purposefully behind full-height glass that's custom lighted to literally highlight the front of the server cabinets and telecommunications equipment frames.

At 35,000 sq. ft., Newcomb & Boyd's office area is large enough to require the use of a distribution closet to meet the distance requirements dictated by ANSI/TIA/EIA 568-B-2001, Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard . In order to avoid having to lease an additional 80 sq. ft. for an equipment room to accommodate 60 workstations, the engineers decided to utilize a megaframe cabinet as the telecommunications distribution space. This unit accommodates the patch panels, rack-mounted 110 blocks for voice distribution and active network equipment such as network distribution switches.

The design is based on the main communications network that houses all of the servers, most LAN distribution switches, the PBX, the paging system and the noise-masking system. In order to distribute this cable to the remote cabinet in a plenum, conduit was chosen. This created additional flexibility for future cable installation without having to disrupt the higher finish spaces such as the lobby, reception area and conference rooms.

Since the firm intends to remain in the space for more than 10 years, it elected to install enhanced category-6 horizontal distribution channels for data and category-3 for voice. Each workstation is connected to the plenum using flexible nonmetallic conduit. Further, the infrastructure not only supports the firm's current 100baseT switched environment, but it will also support the 1,000baseT horizontal distribution with a 10GB/S backbone environment of tomorrow.

But how does it look?

Once Newcomb & Boyd had successfully designed its distribution system so that it would easily support additions, moves and changes, the telecommunications team tackled its most daunting task: aesthetics.

To accomplish this, the latest in open-frame racking was utilized in conjuction with modular patch panels, which were color coded by workstation groups, according to jack color and patch cord color. The telecom consultants also coordinated with their in-house lighting design group to design the fixtures in such a way that it would highlight the front of the equipment when the overhead room lights were off.

In addition, in-house electrical engineers were brought in to provide a separate power distribution panel with dedicated outlets for the telecom cabinets and PBX. Ample convenience outlets for technicians with laptops also were provided.

On the HVAC side, engineers designed a separately controlled environment capable of remaining within equipment tolerances 24 hours a day. Finally, a special meeting was set up with the firm's local service provider to arrange for the demarcation point placement and for the various T1 links that would provide digital service to the facility's PBX and LAN Internet connection.

During installation, advice from the contractors was heeded in determining the best ways to construct the requirements of the contract and also meet the unique aesthetic requirements of the space. The designers also requested detailed test results to ensure that the requested bandwidth was indeed available on the installed channels. They also asked the contractor to print and laminate the telecommunications distribution plans on the wall in order to make it easier to administer the system.

The final result turned out to be more than the firm had bargained for—a highly functional space, which enhances the technology theme of the office and provides a valuable learning space for younger engineers and Newcomb & Boyd clients.





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