A conference room inside a Bank Vault, how did we do it?
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A conference room inside a Bank Vault, how did we do it?

An interview with the IVCi project designer!

Over the last 20 plus years IVCi has designed and installed our share of complex challenging conference rooms. Recently our collaboration specialist Rick Muermann was asked to design a divide & combine technologically advanced conference room inside a bank vault. Rick overcame some unique challenges to deliver a superior end user experience.


A Multitenant building under renovation formally occupied by American National Bank is a pre-war treasure in the heart of Chicago’s financial center with a huge bank vault containing over 1000 lock boxes. The new owner of the building “The John Buck Company” had a vision for the bank vault in the basement of their building. How cool would it be to have the vault contain a conference facility designed for the many and varied meeting requirements of their tenants.

Interview with Rick Muermann an IVCi Collaboration Specialist and the designer of this unique solution.



Rick what were your thoughts when you learned of the customers intentions to convert a bank vault into a conference facility?

“Total Panic! When we first viewed the abandoned space there was one working light in this huge vault. This space had metal walls ceiling and floors all over 20 inches thick. I say panic because the issues were obvious in a space like this and were compounded by the customers requirement to leave all of the lock boxes fully exposed for visual effect, there was no conduit available, the walls ceiling and floors were all hard surfaces so we immediately knew that audio would be a challenge and we knew traditional mounting solutions for equipment like screens would not work.”



With all of these constraints and challenges how did you approach the design of this project?

“The good news was that we were involved early in the project so we could influence many aspects of the renovation, equally as important we had a good working relationship with the architect and consultant.

The main challenges we focused on were audio, lighting, inability to run conduit and mounting three 90 inch screens.

We addressed the audio issue by recommending carpeting and padding on the floors and ceiling tiles with high sound absorption. The client would not allow anything to cover the lock boxes so the walls were left in their current state.

Lighting in a conference facility is critical but running electrical wires in the ceiling was not an option with 20 inch thick walls so we designed a periphery lighting system that works well in all meeting formats.

The construction company was able to bore through one of the walls from which all wires from the external equipment rack could be run but the ultimate design had to make extensive use of wireless technologies for audio, control and presentation modes.

Three 90 inch screens were mounted on poles secured to the ceiling thus avoiding any impact to the lock boxes which the customer wanted to be fully visible.

Finally we knew the margin for errors in the design was extremely low, so the design was vetted by multiple people to insure that we did not run into issues during the installation phase. “

What is the “in room” experience like now that the room is completed and in use.

“When you enter the conference center through the enormous Vault door you can enter one of the two rooms from a glass walled hallway. The audio in the room is excellent as the sound dampening treatments work well. In presentation mode the wireless technology works flawlessly and the visual impact of the vault door and the 1000 lock boxes on the wall makes this facility thoroughly unique. “



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