Installation Profile: Sound Harbor
Oct 1, 2008 12:00 PM,
Story by Trevor Boyer
Photos by Eddie Arrossi
Electrosonic designs and integrates AV and control systems for Maryland’s National Harbor.
The National Harbor in Maryland, a 300-acre residential and commercial development on the Potomac River, sits about 10 miles south of Washington, D.C., just below the Capital Beltway. The brand-new community in Prince George's County is still in the process of springing from the waterfront, but the developer, The Peterson Companies, was, at press time, just wrapping phase one of the project. The development's multibillion-dollar price tag is said to be possibly the largest for any development in Maryland history. The National Harbor occupies a 1.5-mile stretch of waterfront so close to the nation's capital that, uniquely, still had not been completely developed.
The National Harbor's outdoor mall has 15 shops, with five more set to open soon. Phase one includes nine restaurants that are already open, with another eight to come. Three initial residential buildings house 450 condos. Once completed, the development's 300 acres will hold a grand total of 7.3 million square feet of hotels, convention space, restaurants, office space, retail stores, and condominiums, plus four piers that include two marinas.
As an upscale dining and shopping area with boat access and harbor views, the National Harbor is designed as an entertainment destination. To keep its visitors enjoying themselves and spending money, the harbor hosts weekly markets, clam bakes, the Freedom schooner Amistad, Oktoberfest, and various other special events. There's also a Friday-night concert series; movies at the harbor plaza that doubles as an outdoor concert venue; and music that is piped-in along its piers, promenade blocks, its plaza, and American Way — a pedestrian-friendly main street modeled after la Ramblas in Madrid, Spain.
With such an ambitious entertainment plan in mind, The Peterson Companiesturned to integration giant Electrosonic last year to design, integrate, and install audiovisual and control systems for those public areas that needed music and public address. A design consultant based in Electrosonic's Burbank, Calif., office, Yiannis Cabolis, served as the system designer for the project. In November 2007, he sent an equipment list, a facility impact drawing, and a worksheet that detailed signal flow to the company's integration group that's based in Orlando, Fla. The group also needed to integrate and install a lighting system that was designed by Brian Gale of NYXdesign in Altadena, Calif.
Key to the entire audiovisual system are 121 prototype loudspeakers from Renkus-Heinz. The SG61-2R self-powered units are weatherized versions of the standard indoor-only Renkus-Heinz SG61. First of all, their integrated powered amplifiers are modified so that they can withstand the hot Maryland summers. Second, a weatherproof bubble encloses the back of the amplifier module on the loudspeaker. This keeps the rain out, but it still allows air to flow in and out of the unit.
“They've just got a nice, full sound to them for a small speaker,” says Gary Barnes, project manager for Electrosonic. “They're maybe 2ft. tall and 1ft. wide.”
Though the special SG61-2R units cost more than non-powered loudspeakers would have, Cabolis maintains that the choice of these powered, weatherproof loudspeakers ultimately saved the project about $25,000. According to him, this figure accounts for the costs of extra conduit and for the rack space and ventilation systems that power amplifiers would have required.
These SG61-2R loudspeakers are mounted on poles that are spaced at regular intervals along the commercial pier, the marina pier, the north walk, the south walk, and American Way. The outdoor concert area for the National Harbor, the harbor plaza, is outfitted with more Renkus-Heinz loudspeakers. The centerpiece of this portion of the system is a pair of line arrays that each are composed of six Renkus-Heinz PN102LA-R-WR loudspeakers. These are coupled with dual BP15-2R subwoofers, positioned at either side of the performance stage and mounted on RHANG102LA fly-rigging hardware. Four vaults with custom hydraulic lifts put these two line arrays and two light ladders in place. The line-array system is designed for a small band, with the assumption that a larger touring act would bring in its own equipment.
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