Benefits of Video Entry System Experienced Firsthand in Office Tower
Discover how one integrator used an Aiphone solution to streamline the intercom system of a nearly century-old office tower in Manhattan.
Creating a security plan for a commercial multitenant building is challenging. Different tenants have different needs. Some desire an open building allowing visitors to easily come and go.
Others want a tightly locked-down facility. And overall building security suffers when tenants install their own incompatible systems.
Cosmic Fisher Locks (CFL), a New York City-based integrator, created a plan for a large Manhattan office tower to meet those challenges. The company’s idea? Choose and install one common entry control system — a video intercom — then let individual tenants decide who enters their offices.
But keeping tenants happy wasn’t the only challenge offered by 7 Penn Plaza, a 17-story, 368,000-square-foot office tower on Seventh Avenue, bordering the trendy Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
The building’s age — it was completed in 1921 — created problems for CFL says Stephen Vaknin, director of sales and marketing.“When you work in an older building, you never know what to expect behind the walls,” Vaknin says. “The floor plans don’t always reflect the many renovations made over more than 90 years. Plus, the current owners are in the process of upgrading the entire building to give it a common look to fit with its Class A location.”
Replacing Legacy Systems
CFL technicians found more than a dozen different intercom systems of various ages, finishes and states of repair. Some had not worked for years. Old cabling was located, pulled and replaced to prepare for new units coming soon. The building owner and CFL agreed there was no need for a front door master station since the main entry remains unlocked during normal business hours.
Visitors entering the building are required to sign in with a lobby attendant before making their way to an elevator. CFL and building owner the Feil Organization looked at a number of video intercoms before choosing the JF Series from Aiphone Corp. Building management liked the units’ all-in-one video camera, intercom and optional embedded HID proximity reader.
Vaknin explains most tenants added the reader to make it easy for employees with key cards to enter the office. A few tenants added a second or third video station inside the offices so staff members at different desks could monitor the system when the receptionist was away.
Each floor has one to four tenants. Video intercoms outside tenants’ doors let visitors push a button to connect with office staff, and inside stations have video screens so tenants can see the visitors while being able to talk with them before deciding to buzz them into the office. Vaknin says when a call comes in, tenants simply press the talk button to begin hands-free communication.
It’s easy to identify visitors on the 3.5-inch, high-resolution color screens. The desk stations have built-in picture memory to capture visitor photos if needed for later investigations. And the units can store three voice memos and two prerecorded greeting messages for when tenants are out.
The intercoms can only be answered from inside the tenant’s office, ensuring all visitors are properly screened onsite. The wired system also eliminates the expense of monthly telephone service.
The devices’ aluminum finish pleased the property owner as it matched new doors being installed throughout the building. And by standardizing on one unit, CFL installers didn’t need to cut different-sized openings into the newly renovated walls. The six-figure project began in October 2015 and was completed in late summer 2017.
Vaknin says cable replacement was the most time-consuming part of the job. Drew Mulderrig, building superintendent for the Feil Organization, says the new intercoms have met management’s expectations and have been well received by 7 Penn Plaza tenants, including a mix of law and accounting firms, publishers and nonprofit organizations.
“We’re doing lobby renovations across the entire building and we wanted something with an upscale look and feel that would enhance every tenant entry,” Mulderrig says. “The Aiphone product has been bulletproof for us with no unit failures. It’s been easy to use so the tenants have had no issues.”
Mulderrig explains CFL has been the building’s “go-to” integrator for 15 years, providing intercoms, access control, security cameras and doors and locks. He said CFL worked closely with building management to ensure minimal interruption to tenant operations.
Bruce Czerwinski is General Sales Manager for Aiphone Corp.
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