Manhattan Townhouse Showcases Custom Smart Home Designs
The Sky is the Limit for this Smart Home Automation Project on the Upper East Side
When the team at Rich AV Design started working on a seven-story townhouse in Manhattan, New York about three years ago, the client didn’t give any budget restrictions. This enabled the whole crew to really stretch their limits for smart home automation design.
Rich AV Design had completed a smart home installation for the client on another property, and they loved the results so much that they hired Rich AV Design again to complete this townhouse on the Upper East Side. Rich AV Design was actually the only company the client brought back for this project since they were so impressed with the service.
“It was a unique project in that the client didn’t have a budget,” Joshua Rich, owner and CEO of Rich AV Design said. “The kind of job where the sky was the limit. You could make it really nice, and it makes you stretch your limits and see what you can do since there are no barriers.”
The townhouse previously housed 14 apartments. Since it was an older building and wasn’t well taken care of, the only aspect of the property the homeowner and architect wanted to keep was the exterior façade. During the initial phase of construction, the workers had to dig out the floor by hand to create a wine cellar, mechanical room, and AV room. Originally this crawl space was only three feet high, so they spent a month digging it out to create a normal height of nine feet.
The project was well managed and included many site meetings and conference calls involving builders, interior designers, architects, and engineers.
The goal of the project was to fully automate the house – including lighting, shading, audio, video, security, intercom, phone system, and HVAC – and everything had to be invisible. The client wanted the best of the best smart home products and components, but didn’t want to see it at all.
To accomplish this, the team concealed all of the equipment. The only pieces of technology you can see are the Lutron HomeWorks keypads – one in each area to control the lights – and the tablets, which are hidden in closets when not in use.
Another big part of the project was coordinating with all of the trades involved and making the system work seamlessly. For example, the HVAC system was very complicated since the client wanted a traditional cooling and heating system along with radiant heating. The Rich AV team integrated all of the moving parts together with a Savant System. Three equipment racks, 5 Lutron dimming panels, and 4 Lutron shade power panels were placed in the cellar’s AV room. A commercial grade generator sits on the roof and is capable of running the entire home if power ever goes out in the city, allowing the family to still fully use their smart home. This is complemented with redundant cable, internet and satellite TV providers. A fully managed Cisco / Ruckus wired and wireless network was built by Access Networks and is the foundation of it all functioning properly.
The multipurpose media room on the top floor has surround sound, complete with invisible speakers by Stealth Acoustics, and a Samsung TV. The room can be used for entertainment or simply reading a book.
The lighting designer on the job worked carefully with the team to make sure every light dims properly and can be fully controlled. Every aspect took a lot of attention to detail. Installing the whole house music system was challenging because some of the rooms had intricate walls. One of the main rooms had custom millwork, so the team had to cut out wooden panels to recess the speaker in it and then refinish the wood so that it could be acoustically transparent. The millworker created a custom spackle with a wood texture to match the wood paneling, and then lacquered over it it to match.
One part of the project that really challenged the Rich AV team was the intercom system. The client wanted to be able to answer the door if someone rang the bell so that it would appear as if they were home, even if they were actually in another country. At the time, a solution like this didn’t exist, so Rich AV had to create it from scratch.
A couple of the custom scenes the team included were the Good Night scene and the arrival scene. When pressing “Good Night” using the Savant system, all of the lights in the house would turn off except for the ones in the master bedroom. Also, if a person takes the elevator up to one of the seven floors, the lights will turn on before they even take a step out of the lift. The lighting control sequences make it easy to control the home so that people don’t have to run up and down the stairs to turn off the lights.
The townhouse is also remotely monitored by the Rich AV team, so they know if a system is down immediately – even before the client does in many cases. The home can be serviced and repaired remotely as well. With such a large scale system, Rich AV Design is proud to have completed this project.
“We want our customers to know that we have what it takes to see a major project like this through, and do it successfully from start to finish,” Rich said. “We did go in with an estimated budget, even though there were no limitations, and we stuck to that. So we completed the job for the price we said we would. The custom proprietary solutions for monitoring and remote access are also examples of how proactive we are in resolving problems. We make sure our systems are designed properly and run properly all the time.”