It's called an amenity space, and it's the hot new perk many luxury condominiums are offering to differentiate their residences from the pack. Think of it as home theater for the condo crowd, and this New Jersey high-rise on the Hudson, with views of the Manhattan skyline, has a theater that's sure to wow residents and guests alike.
The goals in a community theater aren't that different from what clients look for in a home theater: impressive sound and picture quality at a reasonable price with bulletproof reliability. EDG selected the Digital Projection D-Vision projector for this installation for its picture quality and reliable dual-lamp design. Projector lamps last 2,000-3,000 hours before they need to be replaced. This projector comes with two lamps so clients always have a backup when one loses its shine.
Of course, "simple to operate" is the number one request EDG receives from customers. In a theater that will be shared by a broad swath of users--with varying ages, entertainment tastes and levels of tech comfort--that requirement has to be met even more carefully.
Here, residents press TV or DVD on a Crestron touchscreen remote control and the choreography of steps mimics that of a commercial theater but in a much cozier setting: the projector powers on; surround-sound processor, amplifiers and DVD player turn on and switch to the proper settings; and the light dims to a level comfortable for viewing. The only manual labor required of guests is to slip a DVD into the player.
Concealing the electronics was essential to match the atmosphere of the luxury building so EDG installers tucked the stack of audio/video gear into a closet off the rear of the room. The projector is housed in a an enclosure above the seats. Speakers are mounted in the walls on either side of the screen behind fabric that conceals the speakers but still allows sound to pass through freely. The center-channel speaker, crucial for dialog, is mounted directly above the projection screen behind a fabric grille, with matching grilles added on either side of the center-channel enclosure to provide a balanced look. The two subwoofers that provide the low-frequency sound sit below the screen, also behind acoustically transparent material. Surround speakers are built into the side walls and masked by long cloth panels that complement the room decor.
This theater is part of a multi-purpose entertainment space that includes a brightly lit alcove complete with glass card table, wet bar and seating area. The two ceiling speakers located in the soffit between the two areas help fill out the sound for the adjacent space. A row of red leather stools can be moved around in the bar area or used as an additional row of seating for the 20-seat theater. Another row of stools sits at the bar which has its own 20-inch LCD TV.
Flexibility is key to many EDG customers when it comes to home theater seating. In larger theaters, clients want to be able to utilize both intimate seating and more formal options. Here, two loveseats can accommodate couples seating, and they also maximize the available space. Individual seats, staggered behind the row in front for optimum sight lines, are roomy and spaced more than six inches apart to deliver a feeling of privacy within the community setting. Of course, each of the recliners is outfitted with its own cupholder for the ultimate in convenience.
Flexibility was important in A/V design, too. You never know who is going to be using the amenity room in a condo building so EDG covered all the bases. There's a video game player jack in the equipment stack where residents can plug in their player of choice and take the wireless controller to their seat. They choose Game from the Crestron controller and enjoy a larger-than-life game experience--complete with surround sound.
Residents also have access to music in this condominium, and they don't have to worry about finding a disc or a station they like. They simply drop their iPod into a Crestron dock and listen to their own custom playlists in the lounge, fitness room or any of the other rooms wired into the nine-zone network.
Amenity is one word for this versatile, high-end entertainment space. Some just call it home sweet home.