How an Audio-Visual Makeover Breathed Life into Friendship Village’s Auditorium

For many years, Friendship Village retirement community in Kalamazoo, Michigan has used their Kiva Auditorium for meetings and events. After our team at HAV.Design was able to revamp their entire audio and visual design, the Friendship Village is now looking forward to years of use of their new system that will empower them to provide top level programming and content for the residents that they serve.

The problems at hand

As the audio equipment began to get old, the space had become less usable and effective for Friendship Village’s purposes.

The sound system was prone to feedback, the rear projection video display was in an old 4×3 format, and the display glass was cumbersome for the viewing experience. Additionally, there were too little video inputs on the stage and microphone jacks available. The lighting had also become antiquated with older track lighting at the front of the stage providing only the bare minimum of front light for the space, without the options to dim or or change colors on the stage effectively.

After meeting with the leadership, interested community members, and staff personnel, HAV.Design assessed the Village’s needs and created new criteria for how the space would function. The Friendship Village’s ultimate goal was to have the space be updated and effective for their use.

Our custom solution

One unique recommendation that took into account the Village’s use cases of presentations, movies, and video gaming was our new video wall suggestion. After initial design work, we had found that a video wall would solve these needs better than a video projector and screen. Though some thought that a video wall doesn’t belong in a retirement center, they ultimately trusted our design expertise and understood the advantages that would be gained using that technology. We recommended a new 16’ x 9’ ATS Pro video wall with new video switching and control systems from QSC to allow various audio and video inputs to be managed.

Overhauling the sound system

The next objective was to completely overhaul the sound system. To maximize effective sound coverage from the front of the room to the back of the room while maintaining a sleek and slim technological presence, our team installed small format, O-line boxes from Martin Audio. We considered the fact that the space is sometimes used for live music, but recognized that it is not a high SPL menu, so we opted for 12-inch subwoofers to go along with the main speaker arrays. Our update included new amplifiers, processing, and wireless microphones from Shure. We also made sure to include a small Allen & Heath mixing console with a portable stage box to provide capable inputs and controls for the space. To fit it within the desired visual aesthetic, we chose subwoofers that would fit into existing speaker cavities on stage left and right.

Custom lighting

Finally, we updated the lighting. We installed new color mixing LED light fixtures from Varilite in the ceiling. Combined with the Strand controls, this setup made for easy dimming for all the lights for end users. We love the Strand console and controls for its ability to easily adjust all of the new light fixtures for new scenes and presets. These can then be recalled from entry stations around the room or at the control console.

The final results

Overall, this new setup could be operated from a touchscreen at the front of the space or a portable control location that allows for a small mixing console and lighting console to be discreetly housed at the back of the space. This flexibility now allows for the controls to be removed from the space as needed for events or cleaning. 

“We love our new video wall and AV systems,” said Nancy Kotarski, Life Enrichment Director from Friendship Village, “The wall is bright and our residents love being able to have lights on stage and what’s on the video wall directly behind. The lighting system combined with the video wall and AV updates have enabled us to do events and shows at a far higher level.” 

We are proud of our audio-visual makeover of Friendship Village’s Kiva Auditorium. Being able to help a community in this way was especially meaningful because of the experiences that residents will be able to continue to share. 

If your space is in need of an AV update or completely new design, don’t hesitate to ask about our quality, custom solutions. Get in touch with a team member at HAV.Design at (616) 836-1776 or