Penthouse of Glass Walls, 120-inch Projection, Pure Performance
Located in Atlanta’s elite district of Buckhead, leading home technology integration firm, @Audio, Automation & Theater (@AAT) was engaged by the new homeowner of a penthouse occupying the top two floors of the recently completed stunning glass tower, touted as the tallest building in Atlanta’s financial district.
Every aspect of this 10,000-square-foot-plus penthouse is thoughtfully designed from the interior architecture to the technologies that enable simple and easy-to-use control of the home’s lifestyle and entertainment and systems.
A Glass Tower
Floor to ceiling walls of glass with a view of Atlanta and beyond might be a homeowner’s dream, but could have been a nightmare for an AV integration company tasked to ensure a clean design with all electronics hidden when not in use. Taking advantage of the sweeping views, the living space is an open plan.
These homeowners didn’t only want an architectural showcase, they wanted a comfortable home, and to be able to watch TV during the middle of the day, or kick back and watch a movie at night on a 120-inch screen in the main living space. One might think the only solution would be a windowless dedicated home theater with complete control over lighting. Think again.
Choosing the Best Projector
As with any display, whether a flat screen or projector the environmental conditions of the room and the intended use are huge factors. “You have to be very conscious of ambient light, and you need to be conscious of screen size; there are all these things you have to consider in design,” says Kevin Collins, founder of @AAT. As a 25-year AV industry veteran, Collins notes, “There has always been a trade off in that I could give you a small screen with great quality or I can give you a large screen that makes it look like you are watching a movie, but you sacrifice quality. Or the reverse scenario: I could give you a small screen with very high light output and you can watch almost whenever you want or you can do a very large screen, but it’s very limited in when you can view it.”
Collins says, “You can look at the environment and say to yourself, ‘because of the ambient light and the size of the screen, and I need such and such contrast level,” then you just simply look at Digital Projection (DP) products and you’ll find something that fits those specifications.” For the demanding room environment, Collins chose the, 20,000 ANSI lumen, Digital Projection TITAN Quad projector for the main living room space.
The DP 20,000 lumen TITAN Quad projector is more often specified into professional theatrical productions, military simulations, broadcast television and outdoor entertainment venues. To that Collins says, “We produce luxury items, and as far as a luxury item goes DP projectors are nice because there are no limiting factors. There’s no, ‘We can do 90 percent of what you want.’” Paired with a custom high-end Stewart Filmscreen projection screen, the living room video entertainment is an elite experience.
While @AAT’s focus is creating and delivering easy-to-use, state-of-the-art technology lifestyle experiences for its elite homeowner clients, high performance has always been front-and-center. The ability to deliver the highest performing AV led to @AAT providing the spectacular audio and video productions for an area Porsche dealership to launch new model Porsche’s for the past several years. “We used a DP 20,000 lumen TITAN QUAD to project an almost 50-foot custom video produced by the Porsche creative team of the latest 911 racing around a test track and stunning road footage,” says Collins. “That’s what I am talking about when I say, ‘performance.’ Those 20,000 lumens of light output, combined with the unmatched image quality of the DP TITAN QUAD delivered an experience that launch event attendees will remember.”
All Teams Working Together
It is not uncommon to hear of interior designers and architects sometimes being at odds with AV technology integrators when it comes to clean design and AV equipment. But this was a symbiotic relationship. “We were in on the ground floor. When it was a big empty space, we started working with general contractor Malone Construction Company, Kuo Diedrich Architects, and Wendy Blount Interior Design, as well as many other designers,” says Dan Cater, the project manager at @AAT who oversaw the installation from beginning to end. “We met as a unified team and kept refining the whole project, came up with a game plan and took it from there.”
"Every meeting was productive and very exciting. When the project was complete, being able to meet and exceed the client's needs was extremely rewarding, especially for a project of this size,” Jaclyn Schnirring, Head of Operations for @AAT.
Based on the homeowner’s direction, all teams worked towards a modern look and feel. “They wanted a nice, clean look with less clutter, so we designed it so that the projectors would be hidden,” says Cater. “Tough the living room has very high ceilings, “We’ve got the screen tucked into the tray that surrounds the room.”
In addition to the projection screen being tucked away in the ceiling, a Crestron automated shading system lowers from the same area. Cater stresses that given the walls were all glass, we really wanted them to get a DP projector because it is very bright and the image is very watchable during the day with all the shades up.
The master bedroom is also equipped with a concealed projector, with a screen that is lowered from the ceiling in front of the glass wall. Cater describes, “There is a large built-in structure that serves as the headboard and the projector is hidden inside of that.” A 5,500 lumen Digital Projection M-Vision Cine 400 was chosen for the bedroom. “They are our go-to for any kind of upper end projector,” says Cater.
The unique penthouse occupies the top three floors of the glass tower. The middle, intermediate level was used to allow the bottom and top levels to have very high ceilings. Cater describes, “They have main living spaces with an intermediate level that has a kids’ playroom.” But @AAT also maximized the intermediate level. “Working with the general contractor, we had them build a large box to house the projectors and keep them cool. With just an opening for the lens and you can’t see the projector at all.”
Real Living in a Glass Tower
Cater is proud to point out, “There is a guiding principle that we deliver all the abilities but in a simple enough fashion that a neighbor can walk in and instantly figure out how to use your system without instruction.”
The penthouse home is fully automated with a Crestron system, which controls everything from the heating and air, lighting and shades to the audio and video entertainment systems throughout. “On our side it is complicated, but for the client, the system is very easy to use,” says Cater. “With our designs, we keep it simple enough that a stranger can walk in and pick something and easily see how to use the system.”
Cater notes that some clients don’t get a chance to use all of the wonderful technologies installed. “But this client actually uses these things daily. The living room is their first choice to sit down and watch anything. It is a very open floor plan, so it’s right in the middle of their primary living area.” While there are additional TVs in other rooms, Cater says, “The living room screen can be seen from the kitchen, the home office and many other vantage points on the main living space.”
Over the Top Quality and Service
“That’s the beauty of this projector is that it is useful 24 hours a day, which is unique because a lot of applications there often is a caveat,” says Collins, @AAT’s founder. No matter the time of the day, or brightness of the sun, unless the homeowners choose to lower the shades, they don’t need to in order to watch the image on the screens in front of the glass walls. “With this application, with that level of brightness and with this projector, it’s a 24 hour a day at the clients whim watch and enjoy this product as well,” says Collins “And I think that is really powerful.”
Once all of the systems and AV equipment had been installed, @AAT requested a senior official from Digital Projection to come to the penthouse to calibrate the projectors. “Usually with a lot of manufacturers, you buy the box and its yours,” says Collins. “I’ve been working with Digital Projection for over 20 years. Customer service has always been great. All those guys are incredible. The service is great. The attention to detail is great. And the availably to resolve any issues we have has always been very straightforward and seamless, which is unique in our industry also.”
In the end, Collins says, “If you take a projector that a client can only use five hours a day, then he is not going to get much use out of it.” @ATT’s client might have a projector that’s suitable for a flight simulator, but feels his client should get what they pay for. “If he can get up on Saturday morning and watch the golf tournament or the French Open, that says a lot.”
Digital Projection TITAN, 3-chip DLP, 1080p, 20,000 ANSI lumen
Digital Projection M-Vision Cine 400, 1080p, 5,500 ANSI lumen
Stewart Filmscreen custom screens
Crestron AV and room control
Crestron lighting and shading
Apple TV, Denon and Lab Gruppen AV equipment
Crimson and Peerless AV mounts
Sonance in-wall and in-ceiling speakers
Sunfire in-wall subwoofer
Samsung and Sony LED HDTVs
Furman power conditioning
Middle Atlantic racks
29 zones of audio
34 zones of automated lighting
11 zones of video
9 zones of heating and air control
15 zones of window shading treatments
Outdoor audio/video system surrounding the personal pool
Full security and camera automation
Crestron home automation
9 iPad controls
2 iPhone controls
12 Crestron control points
We would like to thank Audio, Automation and Theater for the use of images and content in this case study.