Electronic Lifestyles Fall 2011 : Page 28
A Samsung 52-inch flat-panel TV is a focal point behind the Aurora home’s bar area. One Room or Many How Audio Video Interiors tackles a diversity of projects by working with partners whose standards are as exacting as its own By Nancy Klosek Photography by Howard Tucker, Mort Tucker Photography he projects that Cleveland-area electronic systems contractor Audio Video Interiors typically confronts are mostly large-scale, but the approach is never “one size fits all” when it comes to how each one is treated by senior residential system designer Jason Spence and the crackerjack team he manages. No two projects or two sets of circumstances are ever exactly alike. The only constant among them all is AVI’s reliance on partner collaboration to make the homeowner’s dream come T to full fruition. That was the case when Spence and Team AVI tackled the mammoth installation of 13 distributed audio zones, 12 distributed video zones and a full automation system in the 14-room home of an Aurora, Ohio, resident over the course of 18 months. And it was also the case when Spence and company needed to rush to completion a Youngstown, Ohio, home theater in time for Super Bowl XLIV, a full year before the rest of the home was due to be finished. 28 ELECTRONIC LIFESTYLES ® Fall 2011
One Room Or Many
How Audio Video Interiors tackles a diversity of projects by working with partners whose standards are as exacting as its own
The projects that Clevelandarea electronic systems contractor Audio Video Interiors typically confronts are mostly large-scale, but the approach is never “one size fits all” when it comes to how each one is treated by senior residential system designer Jason Spence and the crackerjack team he manages.
No two projects or two sets of circumstances are ever exactly alike. The only constant among them all is AVI’s reliance on partner collaboration to make the homeowner’s dream come to full fruition.
That was the case when Spence and Team AVI tackled the mammoth installation of 13 distributed audio zones, 12 distributed video zones and a full automation system in the 14-room home of an Aurora, Ohio, resident over the course of 18 months. And it was also the case when Spence and company needed to rush to completion a Youngstown, Ohio, home theater in time for Super Bowl XLIV, a full year before the rest of the home was due to be finished.
The Aurora Project
In the Aurora project, the primary directive from the client, a musician and the president of a company that designs and produces world-renowned fine arts exhibits, was “to distribute audio and video but keep the aesthetics of each room preserved so the technology didn’t become center stage,” said Spence. Besides making sure the electronics in all the rooms could be easily managed by a Control4 home automation system, a lighting plan was devised that also tied into energy management. All lighting is manageable by the control system; the owner can get maximum dimming capabilities to about 80 percent, so that even with all the lights on, energy is still conserved. “He can control all that offsite with his iPhone, if he forgets to turn some lights off,” explained Spence. Security systems are also tied into the scheme, so that the owner can shut down or arm the system remotely, or see its status on touchpanels throughout the home. And even though the total package entailed using dozens of components, black-box clutter was kept to an absolute minimum because of the brilliant A/V distribution scheme worked out by Audio Video Interiors.
The home’s lower level has an understated Arabian flavor that carries through the game room, bar and home theater. And it was the theater, whose centerpiece components are a 123-inch diagonal Stewart screen and a discreetly placed Digital Projection iVision 30 projector, that gave the crew one of its most daunting challenges—and its best opportunity to show what it could do to configure the tricky placement requirements of front projectors while keeping the installation lowprofile and aesthetically satisfying.
“The client wanted the projector incorporated into the soffit,” said Spence, “and came to us with a photograph of a theater that looked similar to that. It was very specific, and he wanted us to try to achieve that look as closely as possible. What was not evident in the photo, and what we had to convey to him and to the construction crew, was how to get that projector into that soffit – the space, ventilation and access requirements so that you could get to it at a later time for maintenance and to keep it operable for many years.
“Eventually, we put our heads together and came up with a solution that worked for everyone. Luckily, all our partners were willing to listen and cooperate. It was a great project to work on, because everyone was motivated to achieve what the client was looking for.”
The result: a theater that is one of the crown jewels of the home.
The Youngstown Project
The other sterling example of AVI’s capabilities showcases the firm’s ability to Work at top level even under extraordinary time constraints. The theater in the Youngstown, Ohio, home was earmarked “finish first.” The owner gave the crew and its collaborators a three-month window to ready it for a Super Bowl party—well before the rest of the home.
“You’re working on a home under construction and you want to have a clean environment without dust floating around and into the various equipment. It’s just a matter of treating the room as its own entity,” explained Spence.
A second challenge to surmount in completing the room was the client’s need for a door to the right of the projection screen—an area originally specified for acoustical treatments meant to compensate for the room’s unusual dimensions.
“In this room,” said Spence, “it was hard to predict how the sound would behave with its ceiling angles, when you introduced different levels with risers. So we had to come up with some unique ideas in placing acoustics and speakers.”
Together with his architect, he came up with a solution whereby the walls in a different corner of the theater were built out at various depths, allowing the placement of acoustical treatments, bass absorbers, speakers and subwoofers in the wall itself. These were then covered with stretch fabric, lending a Cubism influence to the wall aesthetic. “I’d say our relationship with the architect and the builder here really helped the project,” said Spence. “It was key in delivering a good-performing theater and a good-looking theater.”
Walter VanScoter, Strollo Architects, Youngstown Theater
Electronic Lifestyles®: What had been your experience with electronic systems contractors?
Walter VanScoter: I had worked with integrators before, but never with Jason. We got together with him after some research by one of our staffers. The fellow researching it used to do animations for another integrator out of New York City for the interfaces on their touch panels, and he called him and asked who was good in this area.
There’s no comparison with the prior experience because that project involved so much less than this one. This project was pretty monumental.
EL: What was your biggest challenge as far as the theater portion of the home?
VanScoter: It’s an 18-foot theater facing the screen, which was 16 or 18 feet. To the right is a door that we wanted because we felt the room could seat 50 people and we really wanted to have two ways out of the room. So we added a door. But Jason was not too encouraged, because his primary concern was sound. We were able to make some adjustments.
EL: What were you proudest of on the whole project?
VanScoter: The whole thing is spectacular. The owner went so far over the top. All the seats are wonderful. The whole experience—it’s just a very special room in the house.
EL: What lessons were learned in working with an electronic systems contractor you hadn’t worked with before?
VanScoter: What made it really easy was that we had a concept of the room—a kind of a canyon. Then, the sky was a product that Jason brought on board—iSky, which made it look like the stars. It was spectacular.
The side walls are a series of frames and cloth, and behind that are speakers and sound absorption. We used an aesthetic “front skin” to hide all his technical stuff.
How it worked well was that Jason did a series of drawings, and we had a meeting where he showed me what needed to go where. Having that information, we started making our design concept real. We were able to make frames around entire speakers. The walls are really interesting. It’s a very cubic, kind of multiple-layered design, and they’re all different colors.
We worked with all the different trades, and I found Jason to be very knowledgeable and very helpful.
John Dunlap James Dunlap Construction Builder, Youngstown Theater
Electronic Lifestyles®: Prior to this collaboration with Audio Video Interiors, had you worked together or with any electronic systems contractors?
John Dunlap: We are in the high-end building niche. We typically build 15,000-to-35,000-square-foot homes in the Youngstown-Cleveland area. We found each other through the architect, Walter VanScoter. We’d never worked with Jason and his team before that.
The theater itself was done before the rest of the home, but it ended up being a very involved project spanning over 4 1/2 years, and we probably had a number of job meetings every two weeks, totaling a little over 100. In these meetings, we’d bring things to the table that the client wanted. Jason is very bright and very involved in AVI, and knows a lot about his work.
EL: What was the biggest challenge for you in this project relating to the theater?
Dunlap: The controls for the sound, the baffling that was put in for noise control, gasketing for the doors, the speaker and lights placement, the fiber-optic ceiling. There was a lot of coordination between the trades in that room. Particular attention was also paid to furnace placement so those background noises wouldn’t interfere with the theater. There were two down-flow furnaces in that area; one was for the theater equipment because it has a large heat gain, and we were mainly concerned with cooling. We were also concerned with insulating well acoustically around that area so we wouldn’t have any issues with background noise, which the owner was very sensitive about.
This was a design-build project, so those issues were worked out pretty early in the construction curve. The architect would draw the plans, and we’d discuss things throughout that process and come up with solutions as we went.
EL: What were you proudest of on this project?
Dunlap: There were so many things that the owner chose that were way beyond what you’d see in a normal residence. The theater was definitely a great feature of that house.
I was really impressed with some of the trades. Particularly, AVI did a phenomenal job with all of the low-voltage wiring.
They were very careful and methodical about how they did everything. Nothing was “thrown in.” If you go into the mechanical areas, everything is very neatly placed and well-thought-out. The mechanicals of the home were very impressive, I thought. Even those are areas the owner is very proud of.
There are some really cool cantilevers in the house that hang out approximately 30 feet—an impressive architectural feature. There were so many things in that house—a lot of the driveway was snow-melted, and that took a phenomenal amount of coordination with Jason and the furnace people—a lot of control systems that we had to coordinate. The house also has biometric access, with a thumbprint reader, and that also entailed a great deal of coordination with Jason—figuring out the electrified hinges and locks.
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