March 07, 2011
| by Lisa Montgomery
The portable touchpanels, as well as sleek wallmounted keypads at each room’s entrance, offer quick adjustments of the room environment. When the family is leaving the house to run errands or returning home from a vacation, they can issue these same commands from a larger 15-inch wall-mounted Crestron touchpanel located in the hallway to the kitchen, the master bedroom, and the foyer. Unlike the small portable units, these ample-size panels can display views from the surveillance cameras, and commands that affect the entire house. These “global scenes,” were very important to the family, says Gleicher, “and we spent a lot of time talking with them to determine specifically what each scene should do.” A GOOD NIGHT scene, for example, activates the sensors that guard the perimeter of the house—the interior sensors stay off so the family can move around without setting off an alarm—and sets each of 16 heating and cooling zones to a predetermined temperature. The command also shuts down the decorative fountains outside and the whole-house music system, with the exception of the master suite. GOOD MORNING resets all of the subsystems, and raises and lowers certain motorized window shades to the owners’ liking. And because no two parties are alike, Modern Home Systems created scenes that set the lights and music volume differently for QUIET PARTY and LOUD PARTY.
Where things really get interesting, though, is in the home’s dedicated home theater. The design of the 20-by-14-foot space is a huge departure from the wide-open, clutterfree interior of the rest of the house. Where the common living spaces are virtually devoid of technology, this room is brimming with gadgets—and rightfully so, as it was created from the get-go as a tribute to Star Wars.
Modern Home Systems had no problem designing and installing the audio and video systems for the room, but they felt it would be best to bring in a theater design specialist to handle the space-age accoutrements. Acoustic Innovations of Boca Raton, Fla., went wild with the concept, incorporating life-size R2D2 and C3PO robots that talk, a three-dimensional fiber optic starfield on the ceiling, and acoustical paneling designed to resemble the doors of a spaceship. The “crew” even enters the theater though a motorized pocket door.
Still, the owners couldn’t shake their penchant for a clean aesthetic. Acoustic Innovations implemented a clever way for two full racks of equipment to disappear completely. Attached to a mechanism that rotates 180 degrees, the racks can be turned manually so the equipment faces away from the room. In this position, two concave doors close over the rack. The owners open the doors and turn the rack around to load DVDs or fiddle with the gear.
A Runco DLP projector stays out of sight, too, having been tucked inside a custom-crafted and ventilated soffit at the back of the room. Three front Revel speakers and two subwoofers sit behind a curved, anamorphic 107-inch Stewart Filmscreen display. The screen fabric is “acoustically transparent,” explains Gleicher, which allows the sound to pass through unaffected. The remaining four speakers were installed within the framework of the theater as it was being built, and covered with a fabric weave that lets the sound pass into the room.
The Star Wars theater is controlled like every other room in the house. Using a portable Crestron touchpanel like the ones found in the family room, kitchen and other areas, the owners can cue up a movie, switch between lighting effects and adjust the temperature. “When all of the equipment is running, the room can get quite warm,” says Gleicher. And when they’re ready to leave this galaxy for another, the owners hit the SYSTEM OFF button to shut down every light fixture, A/V component and robot in the room. Quick, easy, and simple: exactly how the homeowners and Modern Home Systems intended it to be.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.