by Rebecca DayMost families have at least one techie. But how does the rest of the family cope with sophisticated electronics? Here in this chic 47th floor high-rise on Manhattan's East Side, everybody gets an electronics solution just to their liking. Flexible remote controls programmed by Electronic Design Group let the techie owner tweak settings to his heart's content while keeping operation idiot-proof for anyone else.
The focal point of the massive project is the video wall in the open living room. It's not that the homeowner actually watches 18 different TV programs simultaneously on his 195-inch plasma wall. He just wanted to be able to. So the wizards at EDG patched together a complex switching system that allows him to view the latest events in a variety of ways: as independent feeds from 18 cable boxes or one giant panorama from Discovery Channel's Planet Earth. Or, thanks to EDG's custom-designed audio/video matrix, anything in between. The wall can deliver any number of independent views up to 18 from a palette of sources spanning the Internet and the Mac Mini and cable and DVD.
The same flexibility extends to the other nine zones of entertainment in this 2,400-square-foot space. Most clients want less hassle and more scheduled automation. This technophile wanted precise control over lights, shades, music and TV. Sure, he could've had EDG program the Lutron motorized sunscreen shades to lower each day just as the late-afternoon sun sliced through the full-length windows, but he likes to play with the toys. Instead, he goes to a Crestron touchscreen, punches the lights page, and lowers the shades himself because he likes pulling the virtual strings. He can do that for every shade in the home from a touchpanel in any room. The audio system gives the technophile even more satisfaction. With a background in computers, he's tech-savvy and has his own way of doing things. He has a variety of music sources to choose from and can drill down to the most detailed levels when choosing XM Satellite Radio, AM, FM, cable TV music channels, CD, Mac or one of three iPods. He can send one source to a single room, a group of rooms or the entire apartment--or rig it so that each zone gets an individual source to please an eclectic rainbow of musical tastes. That's far more control than most people want, but for the EDG designers on the project, it was all about giving the customer what he wanted. His wife doesn't share his passion for tweaking and wants as little interaction with the electronics as possible. That's the kind of intuitive operation EDG programmers are known for, and they designed for her a fast and easy path to instant gratification for lighting, music and temperature. One hard button on a Crestron touchpanel is dedicated to lights. She taps the Crestron panel, and the lights in the room come on to a predetermined level. She touches the climate button, sees the temperature and then raises or lowers it using arrow buttons. Audio options are as simple as choosing music from a dashboard in a luxury sedan. If she wants to drill deeper, she can.
Aesthetics and environment were important to this Manhattan couple. They selected efficient fluorescent lighting for the low-energy benefit and LED for efficiency and colorful options. The cove lighting in the dining room can cycle through a rainbow of colors to match the mood of the owners or set the tone for a special occasion. EDG installers devised an intricate lighting system to make the fluorescents dimmable with the Lutron programmable lighting system.
The apartment is pulsing with electronics but the owners demanded that most of the digital gear be hidden. Control and audio/video equipment are housed in a small equipment closet that's climate-controlled to ensure the equipment doesn't overheat.Even TVs are off limits anywhere but the living room. A 32-inch LCD TV in the sitting room disappears beyond the client's artwork when not in use. A press on the remote control raises the frame on a motorized lift to reveal the TV and the speaker beneath it. In the bedroom, a 42-inch TV hides in a cabinet at the foot of the bed and rises out when the owners press TV on a remote control. EDG designers gave the TV full rotational capability in case the couple wants to view the TV from another angle. The 20-inch TV in the master bath is located at the perfect height for watching TV from the spa. When the TV is on, the LCD is visible behind the Seura TV mirror. When the owners turn off the TV using the waterproof remote control, the Seura resumes its role as a traditional mirror concealing the TV in back of it.
With a 10-zone system squeezed into Manhattan real estate, this project represents the pinnacle of the relationship between technology and space. But that's nothing new. It's all about pushing the envelope at EDG.