Model Condo Designed to Impress

This Pensacola show condo features multiple entertainment systems, a water wall behind the bar, a bathroom "on fire", and a host of high-tech pyrotechnics.

model condo

A spinning granite water ball is one of many features of this show condo designed to impress visitors.

How special is this place? When electronics installer Blake Jochum of All Pro Sound in Pensacola, FL, met with the people hiring his company, the homeowner’s personal manager said, “When someone goes into the bathroom, I want it to look like there’s fire on the wall.” And that was just in the bathroom. The 1,800-square-foot Pensacola condo named Aqua and owned by the proprietor of the multitower Portofino complex would be for showing off and for guests. The piano is one of only three of its kind in the world, Jochum reports, and surrounding one of the flat-panel TVs in the home are knickknacks such as a Nobel Prize and an authentic Fabergé egg. There’s also a water wall behind the bar and a floating and spinning granite water ball. The electronic dazzle would have to match.

“They originally wanted to control audio and video, lighting, and shading,” Jochum says. “Then we asked about the security system and integrated that in.” A Crestron home control system operates it all, including a Holovision door station that enables different presets for different codes entered into it. For example, the owner’s entry code cues up some Sinatra on the audio system. And in entertainment mode, the lights come on, a bathroom window is opaqued, and the shades come up in two minutes so guests can be wowed. When a cleaning person’s code is entered, all the lights come up to full brightness.

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All Pro Sound used a Lutron HomeWorks lighting control system and Lutron Sivoia QED (Quiet Electronic Drive) shading system, with Crestron also controlling the audio and video in five zones and SpeakerCraft speakers throughout. An Audio ReQuest Fusion 120 music server delivers the tunes. Things like the water wall and the opaque glass in the master bath were connected to the system via contact closures to enable remote switches.

To the right of the bar area is the power zone, featuring a 60-inch LG plasma screen and surround-sound system. A 42-inch LG plasma is in the Audio Zone to the left of the bar, and another surround-sound system with a 42-inch Zenith plasma is in the master bedroom.

Look up to the master bedroom’s 10-foot dome, and you’ll see 1,500 points of light, programmed to replicate the night sky as seen on April 14, 1961—a significant day for the owner. Even the Aqua logo is used as wallpaper on the Crestron touchscreens.

This was certainly a different project, Jochum admits. “We usually do something where people are living every day, but because this is more of a showpiece, we weren’t limited by that,” he says. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult. The project’s completion had to be delayed when a hurricane hit and the floors were damaged by water. And in this case, the homeowner was uninvolved until the very end; his project manager oversaw everything. “Then the [homeowner] walked in and saw the project, and that’s [stressful].”

As for that fire in the powder room? All Pro Sound used special-effects company Martin Entertainment’s Mania DC1 lighting fixture with a fire effects package, along with red Color Kinetics LEDs around the mirror.

It was all about making an impact here—and in that sense, the condo works like a charm.

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