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A 21st Century makeover for Ashmolean Museum - UK

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In December 2009 Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum was officially re-opened by Her Majesty the Queen following a £61 million redevelopment program to double its display area and create 39 new galleries, an education centre, art conservation studios and Oxford’s first rooftop restaurant.

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Overview

In December 2009 Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum was officially re-opened by Her Majesty the Queen following a £61 million redevelopment program to double its display area and create 39 new galleries, an education centre, art conservation studios and Oxford’s first rooftop restaurant. The new six story extension sits to the north of the original 17th Century museum, so as to not detract from its original neo-classical splendour, and has resulted in the need for a fiber backbone to support this extensive enhancement.

Museum Overview
The Ashmolean Museum first opened it’s doors in 1683, and has become one of the country’s most significant museums displaying unique collections and producing research and publications as a department of the University of Oxford. Attracting over 360 thousand visitors annually and housing many important collections, it was high time that the Museum looked to secure it’s position as one of the most important national museums. They turned to the award winning Rick Mather Architects to provide an architecturally sympathetic extension to expand and renovate not only it’s display areas but also to provide room for education and conservation. Network reliability, security services, telephones and exhibition presentational equipment were highly important aspects for the museum to consider, for the effective day to day operations of the museum.

The Partnership
Pleased with the performance and reliability of their existing Molex infrastructure and given the high profile nature of this installation, Molex Premise Networks was a natural choice when the museum was faced with the task of creating a fiber backbone for it’s new extension plans.

As a Certified Installer with Molex Premise Networks for 2 years, Able Data and Molex have enjoyed a successful working partnership that have resulted in a number of complex installations. “Molex provides a reliable product and is always very flexible in resolving any issues or last minute requirements which may occur,” says Simon Pollock of Able Data.

The Molex Solution
To complement the existing Molex infrastructure, a 4 core OM3 fiber backbone was chosen to connect 867 points and reach to 14 remote cabinet locations. Inital containment, consisting of basket trays within risers and ceiling voids, conduits within walls and concrete floors, and dado trunking within office areas, was installed by BAM Construction Ltd. Able Data then completed the cabling component/installation under under contract to BAM.

The new Ashmolean extension is a complex architectural design, where the building aesthetics are paramount. To stay in-keeping with these aesthetics, Able Data was charged with ensuring all cabling was completely hidden through a variety of complex cabling routes. With some of the outlets located in low floors boxes, others for high gallery points (overhead projectors etc) were mounted at eight metres high, the solution resulted in housing cable in miscellaneous containment along the various routes. Outlets were then presented in wall boxes, floor boxes and at high level within ceiling points running back to 14 different comms cabinet locations.

Able Data overcame a series of challenges presented by the project, including delaying outlet termination and testing until exhibition cabinets were fully installed, and providing a flexible working schedule to accommodate building delays and late specification changes. According to Simon Pollack, “our experience on builds such as this ensures we have planning and contingency practices in place to help ease the schedule dependencies and challenges for other on-site contractors”.

Conclusion
With site construction commencing in 2006, the the full renovation of Ashmolean museum was completed late 2009, with the museum welcoming 20,000 visitors throughout the first weekend. Simon Pollock, Project Manager Able Data stated “This was a very intricate cabling project, which fully tested the skills of some of our most experienced engineers. We are proud to have been part of such a prestigious project.” With an average of 6,000 visitors a day, the museum also got the royal seal of approval when Her Majesty the Queen opened the museum in December 2009.

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