Phase one of the 6,000-student campus near Naples, Florida, consists of 10 academic buildings, 750 housing units and a town center that will ultimately grow into Ave Maria Town.

If you could design an entire university campus for the 21st century from scratch, what would its technology look like? 
That was the challenge faced by Cannon Design when Ave Maria University (AMU) began planning a completely new 6,000-student campus near Naples. The first phase consisted of ten academic buildings, 750 units of housing, and a town center that will ultimately support an adjoining town, Ave Maria Town, with an expected long-range population of 40,000 residents. 
Cannon Design and AMU’s consultant on “smart buildings,” Sinopoli Associates, realized that creating the campus’s technology systems would require an integrated approach to design and construction.  As both firms quickly ascertained, traditional construction specifications for technology systems don’t address integrated technology systems adequately.

The primary data center is for backbone distribution to all buildings on campus. Photographer: Creative Sources Photography


The standard 16 division Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) MasterFormat has been in existence for decades, and has long been the standard in building design and construction.  However, as technology has evolved, it has become apparent that the standard doesn’t address the integrated systems that are increasingly a part of today’s building design.
The industry, recognizing the construction specifications needed to reflect current building practices, developed a de facto Division 17 for communications infrastructure. According to  the Web site, , this initiative “began in 1998 with the objective of ensuring that telecommunication systems are ‘designed into’ a building during the design phase of the project versus the more traditional method of ‘retrofitting’ it into the building while it is being construction.”  For this project, this method was expanded with the team’s vision to allow all building systems to operate on an integrated structured cabling system to transport critical information.


Cannon Design and Sinopoli ultimately integrated more than a dozen systems into Ave Maria University. These include:
  • Fire alarm and life safety-based systems
  • Building automation system for temperature control and systems monitoring
  • Security door monitoring, card access, and security video systems
  • Low voltage lighting control systems
  • Electrical power and power quality digital metering systems
  • Smartcard campus security and debit card systems
  • VoIP and emergency telephone systems
  • Video distribution
  • Professional sound systems
  • Structured cabling system
  • Primary and backup data centers including packaged UPS and cooling systems
  • Vertical telecommunications rooms active components and UPS systems
  • LAN/WAN network electronics and wireless connectivity
  • Facility Maintenance and Management System (FMMS)
The Ave Maria University technology systems are fully integrated. This means that the control, security, maintenance, administrative and accounting systems throughout the campus utilize the same building structured cabling systems and are unified on the campus-wide fiber optic backbone, which is arranged in a loop-and-radial configuration to allow redundancy in network connections.  This system allows for single-point monitoring and supplies the client with an overall view of the growing campus development. 
Based on an open protocol platform (TCP/IP), all systems report to the campus network operations center (NOC).   The NOC monitors all systems including the building automation system (BAS), which centrally monitors and controls the expandable central chiller plant and operates each building’s HVAC system to maximize energy efficiency.


The campus low-voltage lighting control system, also operated from the NOC, provides for photocell and time management control of interior and exterior building lighting as well as roadway, walkway, and sports fields lighting systems.  Similarly, an electrical power management system, or electrical digital metering system, monitors normal and emergency building power services.
The only systems not carried on the backbone are the analog emergency phone system and the municipal fire department alarm notifications.  Both of these systems are carried on multi-paired copper wiring as a failsafe measure.  With increased ability to respond to security issues, student safety is tremendously enhanced.
Security systems include door monitoring, card access, and security video systems, which all report to central servers and digital video recorders.  Smartcards are used throughout the campus and town center for student and staff identification, building and dormitory room access, meal plans, vending machines, laundry and accounting and purchasing purposes, creating a “cash card” culture throughout the campus.  This high-capacity computerized control system includes photo identification, a magnetic stripe, barcode, and smart proximity technology.  The multifunctional card enables students and staff to access pre-authorized locations including campus buildings, computer labs, student lounges, and dorm rooms.  
The campus network also carries voice over IP telephone and educational video distribution systems.  Audio-visual and professional sound systems equipment are centrally controlled for broadcast and monitored for maintenance (i.e. video projector lamps) to optimize system performance.  Video transmission signaling is accomplished over UTP cabling with converters at local displays.  Individual instructors in classrooms are able to call up video, audio, computer presentations directly from the lectern; a student can pull up lecture notes in real-time directly on his or her laptop.


Ave Maria University realizes significant benefits from combining structured cabling with an open protocol system and using Division 17 to structure a single technology bid package.  Specifying and bidding the technology in this way provides:
  • A single source of responsibility for the design and installation of cohesive systems, cabling, and pathways, including consistent and centralized servers and PC manufacturers.
  • Reduced systems engineering, construction labor time, and costs through reduced repetition of cabling and pathways.
  • Standardized cabling and pathway identification system.
  • Flexibility to easily accommodate future moves, additions, and changes.
  • An open protocol to allow communication with new products, components, or systems additions.
  • A single redundant database to manage the campus mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and telecommunications systems.
The results?  Fully integrated campus technology systems at the most advantageous cost and classrooms that deliver on the promise of high tech learning. 
Bundling the technology systems into a single Division 17 bid package does create challenges for the architect, engineer, and contractor, but only to the degree that it represents a new approach to bidding on and constructing technology systems.  The benefits, both in cost and the ability to expand in the future, far outweigh the adjustments to this project delivery approach.  Ave Maria University and Cannon Design are demonstrating that the future of technology on the university campus is achievable, affordable, and world class. 

About the Sources

Security Magazine thanks Theodore Fowler,, and Salvatore Bonetto, for their contributions to this article.