Current Issue

Mar. 20, 2013

Vol. 113, No. 9

Campus Notebook

McCosh 50 enters the high-tech age

By Allie Weiss ’13
Published in the March 20, 2013, issue


PHOTO: RICARDO BARROS

Sitting on one of McCosh 50’s original wooden seats, it’s easy to feel transported to the Princeton of another era. The largest classroom on campus with 446 seats, the room has hosted lectures by prominent figures throughout its 105-year history. But 25 years after its last major upgrade, the space was in need of a facelift. 

After a $400,000 renovation last summer, McCosh 50 now is the most technologically advanced lecture hall on campus, equipped with new sound, recording, and projection systems. But the well-known creaky floorboards will remain. As David Hopkins, director of the Broadcast Center, put it: “For as many people who complain about the creaky floor, there are people who love the creaky floor. It has charm.”

VIDEO CAMERAS: New cameras set up around the room improve the quality of video recording. The cameras can capture audience questions, and in video conferences, a “virtual” guest lecturer at a distant location can interact with the ­students.
PHOTO: RICARDO BARROS
VIDEO CAMERAS: New cameras set up around the room improve the quality of video recording. The cameras can capture audience questions, and in video conferences, a “virtual” guest lecturer at a distant location can interact with the ­students.
MEDIA BOOTH: A new recording system allows the room to function as a simulcast space and to send and receive HD signals, so that events can be live-streamed to and from other locations.
PHOTO: RICARDO BARROS
MEDIA BOOTH: A new recording system allows the room to function as a simulcast space and to send and receive HD signals, so that events can be live-streamed to and from other locations.
LARGE MONITOR: A movable, 70-inch screen can be set up in the back of the room that allows the lecturer at the podium to see and address both the McCosh audience and those ­conferencing in from another location at the same time. The ­monitor also can function as a teleprompter for public lectures.
PHOTO: RICARDO BARROS
LARGE MONITOR: A movable, 70-inch screen can be set up in the back of the room that allows the lecturer at the podium to see and address both the McCosh audience and those ­conferencing in from another location at the same time. The ­monitor also can function as a teleprompter for public lectures.
SOUND: New speakers have improved audio quality; a computer controls where each speaker sends its sound, making it easier for sound to fill the room. In a switch from analog to digital, the sound, projection, and recording systems are high-definition.
PHOTO: RICARDO BARROS
SOUND: New speakers have improved audio quality; a computer controls where each speaker sends its sound, making it easier for sound to fill the room. In a switch from analog to digital, the sound, projection, and recording systems are high-definition.
PODIUM: A virtual blackboard system from SMART Technologies opens up possibilities for professors. From the new podium, instructors can use the ­system to write directly on slides or Web pages that are ­projected to the class. A ­video-conferencing feature makes it possible for guest ­speakers from across the world to join the room virtually. The curtains and lighting also can be controlled from the podium.
PHOTO: RICARDO BARROS
PODIUM: A virtual blackboard system from SMART Technologies opens up possibilities for professors. From the new podium, instructors can use the ­system to write directly on slides or Web pages that are ­projected to the class. A ­video-conferencing feature makes it possible for guest ­speakers from across the world to join the room virtually. The curtains and lighting also can be controlled from the podium.
PHOTO: DAVID HOPKINS
PHOTO: DAVID HOPKINS

About the renovation

The lecture hall, the most popular event space on campus besides Richardson Auditorium, was closed for the summer to undergo renovation. Extensive scaffolding was installed so workers could replace the speaker cluster high up in the ­ceiling, and at the same time update the smoke alarms and fire-sensor system. The scaffolding was removed just in time for the start of fall classes.

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Comments
2 Responses to McCosh 50 enters the high-tech age

Sergiu Klainerman, professor Says:

2013-03-19 15:43:32

Like all users of McCosh 50 I am happy to know that it underwent extensive renovations. However, I am surprised that what is called "entering the high-tech age" at a cost of nearly $1/2 million does not include an induction loop. I hope it's just not mentioned in the article and in fact it is there. Considering the large number of aging members at public lectures, to say nothing about hearing impaired students, it seems that better speakers is just a remnant of an old age, not really a step forward in the 21st century. The university should be doing more to include these loops in all large auditoriums. It is quite disturbing that our university makes no effort to help its student population suffering of hearing loss (alas, in growing numers). As the parent of such a student I know very well how difficult it is for them to attend lectures in large halls, a fact which often forces them to drop certain popular courses. In attending to students with disabilities, the university should consider hearing loss at the same level of handicap as those requiring ramps for access.

Alvin Gordon Says:

2013-03-28 17:02:06

Are there any lecture halls, meeting rooms, classrooms, public spaces that have loop-system installations?
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