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Installation Profile: High-tech Hotspot

Feb 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Allen DeRilke

Trendy nightclub installs latest AV wizardry.


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LED wall

Every aspect of Philadelphia club G combines to immerse guests in an atmosphere of high-tech elegance, including an LED wall created by Element Labs that provides an ever-present, ever-changing backdrop visible from most zones in the club.

Like many urban downtowns, inner-city Philadelphia has been undergoing a renaissance of late. Crumbling warehouses emerge from their construction cocoons sporting wings of modern condo loft apartments for a growing influx of young working professionals. The once-deserted evening streets buzz with nightlife — the area's denizens ever on the lookout for the latest in trendy eateries and clubs.

G, the newest hotspot to hit downtown Philly, is an upscale lounge and restaurant located at the corner of 17th Street and Chestnut, in the city's fashionable Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. Billed as “technologically injected pure bliss,” the venue occupies the once-dormant basement of Club Quarters, an exclusive corporate hotel chain with locations in London and several U.S. cities. Although it's not officially a historical landmark, the hotel's Colonial Revival-style building dates back to 1927. Its 10,000-square-foot basement was gutted to its stone walls to make way for the club.

The concept behind G is one of high-tech elegance. The stark, sleek, black-and-white décor serves as a subtle backdrop to offset the chrome and Plexiglas accents. The venue's long sight lines and open architecture emphasize a spaciousness that can be visually manipulated and subdivided using different lighting accents. Cleverly implemented acoustic blocking — along with multizoned audio, video, and lighting systems — creates a flexible environment that can function as several neighboring zones or be grouped together to create one or several larger party and performance areas. Depending on which night you go to G, and where you sit, the club can seem like many different places.

“Our ultimate objective was to create a flexible space that could be manipulated using lighting, video, and audio room combining to create a multitude of different scenarios,” says Adam Freemer, systems engineer for Broomall, Pa.-based Audio Video Systems Group (AVSG), the company behind the media-systems design at G. “We can create up to 15 individual zones [12 zones in the main area, plus three for the DJs], each of which can access any of several audio and video feeds.”

Freemer worked with the club's owner, Mark Marek, to create a concept that combined the best aspects of various clubs Marek had visited.

indoor waterfall

A Zen garden-inspired indoor waterfall greets guests with a serene rippling effect.

WATCHING THE WALLS

Eye candy is a big part of the G experience, and it begins in the club's entryway — where a large, Zen garden-inspired indoor waterfall ushers in arriving guests with a serene rippling effect. Nearby, behind a smoked Plexiglas wall, three Raxxess 44RU equipment racks filled with audio, video, and switching gear glow with a warm, high-tech aura.

Inside the club, most of the main area's rear wall is home to a uniquely designed, 55ft. LED wall that creates both a signature focal point visible from much of the club and a constantly morphing background atmosphere. Austin, Texas-based Element Labs created the Versa TILE display, one of the largest LED walls of its kind.

Several hundred 5in. Versa TILE LED panels, each capable of producing more than one billion colors, create the effect of electric wallpaper. The proprietary controller that feeds this display can project QuickTime movies formatted to implement the display's panels as oversized pixels, or it can display custom visual applications include a fully functional audio-meter display or abstract, pulsating patterns.

Several more-traditional LCD screens also line the walls, including a 65in. Sharp Aquos LC-65D93U, two 52in. LG Electronics 52LB5D screens, and three 42in. LG 42LC7D screens covering the lounge and dance-floor areas and a pair of LG 37in. 37LC7D screens residing at either end of the cigar bar. An Extron Electronics 60-325-16 8×8 wideband matrix switcher handles routing video signals over Cat-5 to eight Extron DVS 304 video scalers that optimize the video sources for the HD displays. Video sources include two Sony SLV-D380P DVD/VCR players, PC video, and a high-definition cable TV feed.



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