Palatial Penthouse Controlled by 30+ GUI Devices

Touchscreens and keypads to manage an AMX automation system are everywhere, along with 50 motorized shades, 30 listening zones and 13 flat-panel TVs.


SILVER WINNER: Best Grand Space

When you live in a high-rise, space can be tight. To give themselves more elbow room, the owners of this 17th-story residence bought three apartments and had the walls removed to create a 10,000-square-foot living space.

During the renovation, the homeowners decided it would be worthwhile to put in some electronic systems–not just a basic security system and entertainment setup–but a sophisticated design that would automate everything from the window blinds and lights to the door locks and even the toe heaters in the bathroom.

“One of the only things we have in life that’s finite is time,” says Jason Perez of Conundrum Technologies, a home systems design and installation firm in Denver, Colo. “The least amount of time you can spend making sure the doors are locked, the lights are off and the blinds are closed, the better.” Sold on that philosophy, the homeowners went ahead with a two-year project aimed at making their home as efficient to manage as possible.

An AMX control system was chosen as the brains of the operation. Meticulously programmed by the engineers at Conundrum Technologies, it would allow the family to operate more than 50 motorized window shades, direct music and video from a central rack of audio and video equipment to 30 listening zones and 13 flat-panel TVs, adjust 19 thermostats, lock and unlock 10 magnetic door locks and view images from three exterior video cameras–all from an AMX touchpanel or handheld remote.

Conundrum fitted the house with more than 30 of these home management stations to ensure that control was never more than a few steps away.

From any of the touchpanels the family can control each system independently or they can command several systems at once by engaging one of the nearly 100 scenes programmed into the AMX system by Conundrum. Many of the scenes focus on the lights, window shades and thermostats as a way to curb energy use.

For example, there’s a scene that opens the shades and turns off the lights to allow the home to be illuminated by natural sunlight. Another scene closes the drapes to prevent solar heat gain and turns on the lights. For even greater efficiency, the settings of the lights, shades and thermostats involved in each scene adjust automatically according to the position of the sun.

“We determined the location of the sun every hour, every day, every month of the year and compared that with the positions of the windows to create a whole new level of automation,” says Perez.

The sun wasn’t the only variable Conundrum designed the system around. The identity and location of touchpanel users were also factored into the home control scheme. “The system reacts a certain way depending on who’s using a touchpanel and which touchpanel they’re using,” Perez explains. For example, if the lady of the house is using a touchpanel in the kitchen to operate the whole-house music system, the tunes will be distributed to only the kitchen and a few adjacent rooms. The volume in each of those rooms will be set to different predefined levels of her liking.

About the only technology this home doesn’t sport is a dedicated home theater. The family made up for it, though, by having 13 flat-panel TVs installed. The two largest sets–a 50-inch NEC plasma and a 60-inch NEC plasma–were paired with high-end digital Meridian sound systems. Of course, like every electronic device in the home, these audio/video setups are under the complete control of an AMX controller. With one touch of a button, the family can have the whole room ready for a relaxing evening in front of the display. The lights dim, the shades close, and the appropriate gear revs up.

From there, it’s a simple matter of choosing a movie. Their entire video library, which is stored on the hard drive of a Kaleidescape media server, pops up on the screen of the TV. It’s just one more example of how much more efficiently a home can run with the help of a well-programmed home control system.



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