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Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A museum, a school, a conference center and a technology showcase, Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin is one of the most interesting and impressive facilities built in the Midwest in recent years.

Lewis Sound & Video did the acoustical consulting, AV consulting and installation for the presentation systems in the building, including two digital cinemas and the Pilot House meeting space.

“Our guiding light,” Henry Lewis says, “was cutting edge. We and the other contractors were told to use the very latest and the very best technology, to the point where we were redesigning our systems literally until a few days before installation to take advantage of new developments.”

For the Digital Theater and Innovation Theater, Lewis Sound designed and built AV systems using:

  • Christie CP2000X digital cinema projectors
  • Massive 12′ x 21′ and 15′ x 27′ tab-tensioned projection screens
  • Seven-speaker 5.1 surround sound systems
  • AudiaFLEX digital signal processors
  • A selection of wired and wireless microphones
  • Crestron controls


The main video/audio source in each theater is a QuVIS digital media server, which provides true 1080P output and 6-channel digital audio. Discovery World staff can also load video from high-definition DVD, satellite or virtually any other video or computer source.

The Innovation Theater also has a stage where staff produce programming in front of a live audience for Milwaukee Public Television. For that reason, we included a Midas 24-channel digital mixing board in the control room.

One nice feature of the Digital Theater is the ability to raise the screen and open the curtains at the front to reveal a beautiful view of the city. “We planned the room to be used for live events,” says architect Jim Shields of Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, “and they can use it with the windows open.”

While the overall design and even the acoustical work on the two theaters was fairly straightforward, Lewis explains that “because of the intimate nature of the spaces, loudspeaker placement was critical. First of all, sightlines were not to be interfered with. The audiences are right to the back and side walls, so we had to very carefully place the surround loudspeakers so they weren’t too hot for those in the back row but still reached out into the middle of the space.”

Discovery World management is extremely pleased with the presentation systems. Chuck Aumann, technical director for the facility, says, “we’re showcasing the ability to produce all of these communications, and all of the media shown in the complex, within our own building. We’re able to create imagery from beginning to end, produce it, edit it, and exhibit it, all at the highest quality. We can inspire students and the public to understand and learn about technology, help teach them to create it through our partnership with MATC, then bring it out to other universities and the business community through the conference center and by offering our organization as a benchmark.”

Read more about the sound and AV systems at Discovery World in AV Technology Magazine

Read more about the Discovery World project on the Crestron Website.