Ultimate Integration
Tying Together a 35,000-square-foot Home
April 14, 2011 by EH Staff

When Tony Harper, the managing director of T & T Automation Ltd., was hired to handle all the a/v and automation for a sprawling 35,000-square-foot residential compound in Vancouver, Canada, it’s fair to say that the word “imposing” crossed his mind. 

Thankfully, with T & T’s roster of highly trained professionals and its vast resume of elite technological and installation experience, the word “impossible” did not.

“At the time, this estate was one of the biggest projects we had ever worked on,” Harper says. “The design process for the overall automation system took three full months.”

The client’s mandate, he continues, was “if it could be integrated, automated or controlled, it should be included in the plan, but not just included—it had to be executed well with the best technology available.”

This extraordinary estate home—loaded with 31 touch screens, 48 zones of audio, 32 zones of video, more than 1,000 lighting circuits, 240 window coverings, 24 flat-screen televisions and more than 100 keypads—has consumed the energies of seven T & T employees for three years to date (the completion for all of the estate’s external buildings is estimated to take another year).

“The coolest thing was that the client wanted the project done properly—there were no compromises,” Harper adds.

From the get-go, the client had his wish list in hand: He wanted numerous touch screens and wireless remotes throughout the house, as well as extensive voice and data networking, a full-blown home theater, and an elaborate security system so he could reference the status of any window or door on the property with ease. After all, only two people—the client and his wife—reside in the capacious home.

So if each spouse is working on opposite ends of the property with thousands of square foot in between, the husband can, for example, communicate with his wife via the home’s extensive intercom and paging system. In addition, he can also ensure that his wife is safe by monitoring the security cameras and checking to see if any locked doors have been breached.

Not surprisingly, the monstrosity of this estate dictated the complexity of the huge, complex behind-the-scenes automation system. “Because of its size, the house is constructed in commercial-grade building techniques and electronics,” Harper says, adding that his team connected all of the inner-building technological workings via fiber-optic cabling. “It’s a massive automation system—the residential equivalent of a building management system.

“Because the house is so big, the client wanted to perform intercom and paging functions from any touch screen, and he wanted to be able to check for open windows anywhere in the house,” Harper continues. “The system lets him have a constant watch over the status of the entire residence from any area—without the need to physically check every window, door, gate or HVAC zone. This is truly an automated home on a vast scale.”

Integrating hundreds of window coverings and doors, a complex HVAC system with more than 1,000 points, and an extensive wireless voice and data network required meticulous attention to detail—both major and minor. So to do it right, the T & T team carefully mapped out every facet of every technology-involved area in advance. In fact, they spent 800 hours designing and documenting all of the major technological points in the home with detailed drawings so there would be no question about where to put what.

“[Those drawings] became the glue that held together all of the technologies, and also the technology contractors,” Harper says. The company invested 2,500 hours of programming for the elaborate system and more than 3,000 hours of installation time.

More daunting than documenting and designing the system was making hundreds of automation controls extremely easy to use.  “The touch screen’s user-interface had to be nothing short of outstanding,” Harper says, adding that the firm’s custom creation is based on icons instead of word-driven directions.

For example, click on any of the touch screen’s icons—the television, curtains, a light bulb or a security camera—and then select the area of interest, from the carriage house to the conservatory, the guest house or any of the main home’s three floors. From there, you can do what you want: turn on or off any television; determine which windows are open and which doors are locked or unlocked (green indicates closed, red is open); check on the status of the radiant heat or forced air; lock specific doors with the touch of a button when leaving the house or entertaining guests; or determine when a locked door has been bypassed.

“The interface is designed to constantly provide the home’s status across all major sub systems,” Harper says of the icon-driven system.  “The idea was not to fill the screen with traditional buttons or words, but to make it precise to navigate. It’s a lot of control in a very complex system.

“The client wanted the system to run the house for them,” Harper continues. “What we bring to the party is how to make it all work. T & T is particularly good at integrating complex systems and providing simple, intuitive interfaces to our customers.”

By Brooke Lange/Home Entertainment

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The Details

Electronic Systems Consultant:
T & T Automation Ltd. (North America)
8988 Fraserton Court, Unit 113
Burnaby, BC
V5J 5H8

2009 CEDIA Electronic Lifestyles Award Winner
Best Integrated Home: Overall Winner

Equipment List:

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Bowers & Wilkins WM4 loudspeakers (2)
Chief Manufacturing MTRV Flat Panel Tilt Wall Mounts (3)
Chief Manufacturing PROU Universal Flat Panel Lockable Tilt Wall Mount (37-65” Displays)
Chief Manufacturing FPM4100 FPM Tilt Wall Mounts with Q2 Mounting System (2)
Chief Manufacturing MWRVB Universal Flat Panel Swing Arm Mount (30-50” Displays) (3)
Chief Manufacturing MSBVB Universal Flat Panel Interface Bracket (30”-50” Displays)
Crestron C2ENET-2 Dual Port Ethernet Card (2)
Crestron C2IR-8 8 IR/Serial Output Control Card
Crestron C2N-DAP8RC 7.1 Surround Sound Processor and Room Solution Boxes (5)
Crestron C2N-HBLOCK Multi-Type Cresnet Distribution Block (7)
Crestron C2N-IADS30X24 Intercom Audio Distribution Switchers (4)
Crestron C2N-RTHS Temperature and Humidity Sensor
Crestron C2N-SPWS300 300 Watt Cresnet Power Supply (7)
Crestron C2N-TAMWX AM/Weather Radio Tuner
Crestron C2N-TFM FM Radio Tuner (3)
Crestron CAEN-4X2 Automation Enclosure
Crestron CAEN-7x2 Automation Enclosure
Crestron CEN-IDOC Interfaces for Apple iPod (3)
Crestron CEN-TIA Telephone Interface Module
Crestron CNAMPX-16X60 16 Channel Multi-Room Amplifiers (4)
Crestron CNTBLOCK Cresnet Distribution Blocks (7)
Crestron CNX-BIPAD8 CAT5 Audio Distribution Processors (6)
Crestron CNXBRMO Bridging/Mono Interfacea (7)
Crestron CNXHUB Cresnet Hubs (5)
Crestron CNXIO-16 16 I/O Versiport Control Card
Crestron CNX-PAD8A Audio Distribution Processor
Crestron CNX-PBAR4 CAT5 Balanced Audio Receivers (2)
Crestron CNX-PBVR4 CAT5 Balanced Video Receivers (2)
Crestron CNX-PVID8X4 Video Distribution Switchers (4)
Crestron CNXRMCLV Enhanced Room Solution Boxes (18)
Crestron MM-DE-12 MediaManifold High-Definition CATV Distribution Expanders (2)
Crestron Pro2 Processors with Ethernet (3)y
Crestron ST-IO 8 Relay and 4 Digital/Analog Input Modules (5)
Crestron TPMC-8X Isys i/O 8.4” WiFi Touchpanels and docking stations (5)
Crestron TPS-12L Isys 12” Wall Mount Touchpanels (26)
Crestron TPS-17B Isys 17” Widescreen Tilt Touchpanel (Slimline black)
Crestron TPS-17L Isys 17” Widescreen Wall Mount Touchpanels (3)
Davis Wireless Vantage Pro2 Plus Weather Station with 24-Hr Fan Aspirated Radiation Shield
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Furman AR-20 II Voltage Regulators (10)
Furman SB-1000 UPSs (3)
Furman AC-215 Compact Power Conditioners (25)
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Kaleidescape KPLAYER-5000 Movie Players (5)
Kaleidescape KMUSIC-4000 Music Players (2)
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Klipsch R-5650-W Architectural Speakers (8)
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Klipsch RSW-12 Subwoofers (2)
Klipsch RB-81 Bookshelf Speakers (4)
Klipsch RC-64 Center Speaker
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Klipsch RSX-5 Bookshelf Speakers (6)
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