Duke Health Celebration


They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So when the new chancellor of your university’s Department of Health Affairs delivers his initial address to key stakeholders, you want to raise the bar on expectations.

For Duke University, this included a number of objectives. Of utmost importance was to communicate priorities for the forthcoming strategic plan. Next, it was critical to connect with both new prospects as well as close their ongoing campaign with strength. And finally, this event would need to create a distinct sense of community among the faculty and other university leaders.

The key issue needing to be overcome was the fact that the primary use of LED technology was to be accompanied by scenic framing aspects—and both needed to blend seamlessly. Add a four-hour window to setup one of the three ballrooms spanning a total of five video walls, and you get a decidedly more difficult degree of difficulty.


Commensurate with the Chancellor’s five-pillar plan, the solution entailed the same number of LED video walls spanning the ballrooms. Born in the Creative Visions design lab, a unique approach incorporating natural wood material was chosen to flank each wall from the front. This simple framing lent itself well to the same communication style being employed for the message.

The video walls were staged to operate in two distinctly different modes: unified and individual. When a single video clip or idea needed to be expressed, the former went into operation. And when multiple topics were discussed or delineated sequentially, single walls were employed. It’s a flexible approach that translates well in any scenario.

Along with the LED components, the event design team also had to consider lighting, sound, customized graphics, an opening video and complete project management. Each of these factors also played a part in ensuring every attendee had a clear view of the video walls throughout the ballrooms.

In a rare instance for an event, logistics issues trumped those of audiovisual. In the center ballroom, load-in was set for 1:00 pm with rehearsal at 5:00. When said load-in consists of 5000-pound video walls, some unique thinking is required. As such, the team staged all five pieces in an outer ballroom the night before the event. The walls were built on stage decks, and then rolled into place the next day. The concept itself was proven and tested in the design lab; nothing was left to chance.


When your goal is to connect and communicate, ensuring nothing is lost in translation is paramount.  Simple and clean, and much like the Chancellor’s speech, the Creative Visions team delivered a “less is more” approach that resonated with the audience without overpowering the venue. The team is already looking forward to expressing next year’s theme in whatever manner the university deems necessary.