Townhouses and brownstones dominate most of Chicago’s Lincoln Park District, but there’s one amazing residence that boldly broke tradition with a design that’s so modern, contemporary, and visually striking that anyone who strolls by can’t help but wonder what sorts of fantastic amenities stand behind the concrete facade of the sprawling 26,000-square-foot mansion. If smart home technologies happened to cross their minds as one of the fabulous features inside, they would be right on target.
Eye-Catching Effects from an iPad
From the second you swing open the massive front door and step into the foyer, it’s obvious that the interior of this home is just as special as its exterior, which occupies land originally planned for eight townhomes. An iPad mounted flush into the wall is there to greet you, presenting a handful of options to set the lighting, shading, whole-house music, security, and heating and cooling systems, to your liking the a touch of just a few buttons—thanks to a Crestron home control app that was loaded onto the iPad from the home systems integrators at Sound Specialists, of Chicago.
Referred to as “scenes,” these commands choreograph the settings of multiple systems to create a specific ambiance. Some scenes highlight niches where priceless artwork is displayed, others focus on the eye-catching architectural elements that pervade the residence, and then there are scenes that are more practical in nature–arranging the fabric shades and architectural lights in the kitchen for a family dinner or a casual movie night in the media room, for example. “Lighting design in this home was crucial,” says Gideon Elfassy, president of Sound Specialists, whose team of home systems integrators designed, programmed, and installed the smart home systems that help bring out the beauty of the home, ensure optimal comfort and security, and create a serene environment where the homeowners and their two children truly escape from the hustle of the city.
Lights and Shades Set the Tone
The fact that the home was outfitted with more than 300 zones of lighting and 118 motorized window shades of all different sizes, shapes, and fabrics, necessitated a system that would enable the owners to easily operate every smart switch and every motorized rod, roller, and track from anywhere in the house. Without a system like the Lutron HomeWorks in charge, the homeowners would have easily spent 30 minutes arranging the lights and shades manually for bedtime, for example, as the home comprises three individual pavilions connected by glass loggias and four outdoor spaces. To minimize the footwork involved in prepping the house for certain activities, occasions, and daily routines, Sound Specialists installed sleek, modern, Lutron seeTouch keypads throughout the dwelling, which grant the owners a quick, easy way to control the lights and shades within a specific area.
Multiple Systems Under Unified Command
Of course, there are times, like when the family leaves the house, goes to bed, or entertains guests, that an issue of commands to lights and shades throughout the entire house—not just those within a specific room–is more helpful. For these global modes of control, they can go to one of several wall-mounted iPads and log onto the Crestron home control app. Displayed on the main menu of every iPad screen are options including, Home, Relax, Night, and Away, along with a description of functions performed by each of these commands. It was an extra touch added to the Crestron interface by Sound Specialists that fosters greater familiarity by the family of their home’s amazing intelligence and capabilities.
The integrators created a couple of other ways for the homeowners interact with the lights and shades, as well as with a Crestron-powered, 28-zone whole-house music system, DMP security system, and 30-zone commercial-grade Mitsubishi heating and cooling system. They can go to a page that lists every room, select the room, then make adjustments to whichever system or device they want. Alternatively, they can pull up a map of the entire residence. At a glance they can see the status of every light and shade, as well as determine which zones of security are active, where music is currently playing, and the temperature of each room.
Extra Special High-Tech Touches
Special areas of the house, like an indoor conservatory, receive special attention from the Crestron, Lutron, and other home technology systems. Sound Specialists programmed a lighting schedule to activate “grow lights” to promote healthy plant growth year round. A Lutron-controlled ceiling fan from Big Ass Fans, meanwhile, maintains proper air circulation. The Crestron and Lutron systems also pair up in the natatorium for a one-two punch of great lighting and music. Four moisture-resistant stainless steel speakers from James Loudspeaker deliver music to the space, while the lighting is on-point, whether the homeowners want a bright and festive environment or something softer and more subdued. And should the family wish to take advantage of a warm summer Chicago night, they can tap a button to activate a gas fire pit and direct music to the weather-hardy Jamo speakers in the back yard.
Communication is Key
Like most smart home systems, the technology incorporated into this stunning Chicago mansion has been designed for continual refinement. Sound Specialists will eventually integrate a Seidel intercom system with Crestron control platform so that the owners can converse with and see from any iPad visitors at the gate. It’s just one more facet that will make this architectural showstopper all the more unique from its neighboring townhomes.