No Place Like Home: A Resi Install
The 31,000-square-foot Monarch Resort Club at Trilogy, a community by Shea Homes, is the centerpiece for residents of this exclusive 1,200-home development along the coast of central California. Once inside, the high-end interior design by Design Lines of Greenwood Village, Colo., and the discrete AV systems installed by Jensen AV of Santa Barbara, Calif., ensure residents never want to leave.
CHALLENGE: Install AV systems that support disparate uses in a residential community's clubhouse, but ensure the entire building can be controlled from one location when necessary.
SOLUTION: Put the control system in the hands of residents as well as staff, observe how they use it, then make changes that meet their needs.Sometimes there really is no place like home, especially when home is designed to feel like you're on vacation 24/7. The 31,000-square-foot Monarch Resort Club at Trilogy, a community by Shea Homes, is the centerpiece for residents of this exclusive 1,200-home development along the coast of central California. It encompasses a full-service restaurant, sports bar, fitness center and outdoor pool area, gourmet supermarket, and a full-service spa under one roof.
The Monarch Club also acts as the central mail room where residents must come to pick up their mail, a tactic used to drive constant foot traffic into the clubhouse. Once inside, the high-end interior design by Design Lines of Greenwood Village, Colo., and the discrete AV systems installed by Jensen AV of Santa Barbara, Calif., ensure residents never want to leave.
According to James Engler of Willams + Paddon Architects, the project architect during the construction phase, the clubhouse is unique to the surrounding area and reflects the environment of the nearby monarch butterfly sanctuary and grove of eucalyptus trees to the northwest. In fact, the roofline and stone walkways mimic the appearance of butterfly wings. "Our firm has done quite a few clubhouses for Shea Homes. This is one of the nicest we've done so far," Engler says. "Understanding the flow and usage patterns of these clubhouses comes from experience with how these buildings function, and the learning process based on previous designs."
Engler says he's starting to see more and more AV integration in similar projects his team has worked on. "Technologies like automated darkening or blackout shades on windows and Homeworks lighting control by Lutron really simplified this install," he adds.
"The client wanted AV that was streamlined and integrated without disrupting the building's visual flow," says John Salgado, director of sales and engineering for Jensen AV. "Every room's AV system also had to be easy to use for the staff and the diverse people who would use it. Each area has individual control with an overall master control using AMX touch panels."
The install team at Jensen AV pulled 25,000 feet of Cat-6 cable and 14,000 feet of speaker cable, and the deceptively simple AV design included a total of 284 loudspeakers. "We were hired just a few weeks before we needed to start pulling cable," says Kelly Magne, CEO of Jensen AV. "The bid design went through several revisions, and walls and conduit paths were changed due to the rocky terrain. At certain times, we were redesigning the AV system in the field as we pulled cable and encountered problems."
Once on site, the install team discovered that much of the underground conduit for the cable pulls were either crushed or flooded. These pathways were crucial to linking the clubhouse's AV systems, but they were laid out more than a year in advance, even prior to pouring the concrete slab. Over time, proximity to a high water table and exposure to heavy construction vehicles took its toll. "It's near the ocean, so we suspect that the conduits were dug too deep," Magne says. "As a result, we had to redesign how to distribute the AV using different paths and technologies."
Jensen AV blew out over 40 gallons of water from some of the partially flooded conduit in order to be able use it. Wherever water issues were likely to recur, Cat-6 cable was chosen to handle video communications, given its direct-burial characteristics and special coating that protects it from the environment. The high-performance nature of the cable also provides a built-in future-
proofing in the event the community wants to implement applications that require more bandwidth.
The unexpected limitations in cable pathways also meant that the install team needed to find new ways to run lines. When some of the main conduit got full, other routes were created by linking the cable runs through electrical closets in individual rooms. "This eliminated the need to run the lines all the way back to a central hub," Salgado says.
High Ceilings, Hidden AV
The clubhouse features 40-foot-high tongue-and-groove ceilings, walls of windows and natural rock, and a stone floor on a slab foundation. JBL Professional Contractor Series ceiling speakers were individually hand painted to match the tongue-and-groove ceiling throughout the clubhouse. "Shea Homes had a painter on site who painted each speaker grille to match the wood. We often had to wait for them to dry before installing them," Magne says.
The open and airy space does wonders for sight lines, but also created a less than ideal acoustical environment. "We did what we could in the smaller rooms by using more absorptive materials and flooring," Salgado says. "However, we looked at distribution and re-zoning of some audio to improve intelligibility in the common areas. We used the BSS London processing for delay and compression."
Many of the rooms, particularly the ballroom (also referred to as the grand living room) required a multifunctional, multipurpose AV design. The ballroom sports the same 40-foot ceilings and can be split into two smaller rooms with the touch of the button. The room features a Panasonic DW5100U 16:9 format projector with a Chief Manufacturing mount connected to a projector lift in the ceiling. "There is a 10-foot drop on the projector lift and it's at the maximum extension," Magne explains. "We used the same tongue-and-groove wood underneath the lift so that it disappears when closed."
A 5-inch AMX Modero touch panel is wall-mounted on each side of the room to control the ballroom's AV, window shades, and projection screen. According to Salgado, the audio system can accommodate a supplemental portable audio system for special events, holiday parties, or live bands. The ballroom also serves as the central AV processing hub, with a Middle Atlantic rack that houses Crown amplifiers, the BSS London audio processor, an audio server, and other processing equipment.
Adjacent to the ballroom is the library, where the AV is hidden so the room can be turned quickly and easily into a small meeting room. As with all the rooms in the clubhouse, background music can be routed into the library when desired.
Digital signage plays an important role throughout the clubhouse, especially for disseminating public announcements, community and business information, and other mass messaging. Salgado says Shea Homes can also push its own advertisement for revenue-generating areas like the restaurant, grocery store, and spa.
In the spa area, an AMX Modero touch panel sits on the reception desk so residents can book their own appointments as if they were at a self-service kiosk. Treatment rooms have separate audio systems, each with an iPod input, and the outdoor pool/spa area has more than 40 JBL Professional speakers hidden or buried among the plantings. "The outdoor spa is near where the monarch butterflies return, so it was an environmentally sensitive area," Magne says. "We used JBL Control 25 all-weather loudspeakers around the pool since it is a high humidity, chlorine, and salt environment."
Residents can also take water aerobics classes, so Jensen AV specified an AQUA 20/20 waterproof microphone by Special Projects of Powderly, Texas, that can be worn in the pool.
Magne credits the AMX control system for simplifying the use and control of all the AV systems for Trilogy residents and staff members. Each touch panel has been programmed so that any resident can operate the systems in each room without any training. In addition, two central control stations, with AMX Modero VG Series 12-inch tabletop touch panels, offer the flexibility of accessing and modifying any system in the building.
"We did physical paper drawings of each page to ensure that any command meant the same thing to the client as it did to the programmer," Magne says. "We used these paper drawings to illustrate the flow and to ask the client 'When you push this button, what do you expect to happen?'"
Salgado adds: "There were several rounds of AMX programming. Shea Homes did a soft opening so we went back to tweak the system once it was in use. Each touch panel keeps with a consistent layout, with commands segregated by device and/or function. If a user goes too deep, they can always use the 'home' button in case they get lost in the AMX system."
The Monarch Resort Club has been open for more than a year now, and Jensen AV says it continues to receive positive comments from the staff and residents.
Linda Seid Frembes is a freelance AV writer and contributing editor to Pro AV