Castle in the Clouds

Outfitting a condo can present many challenges, particularly with space limitations and limited wiring. But for this condo’s owner, lots of extras like motion detectors, lighting controls, and remotes make this space enjoyable whether he’s working from his office or relaxing in the living room.

The 5,000-square-foot condo consists of three units that have been combined on the 18th floor of a 19-story building. The building is one of three towers in the Gateway and South Lake Union complex along Seattle’s downtown lakefront. The North Tower, where this condo exists, also includes the 160-room Pan Pacific hotel, 261 residential apartments, and some retail shops. The project is the handiwork of investor and philanthropist Paul Allen. The famous co-founder of Microsoft developed the property under Vulcan Inc.

Definitive Audio, with showrooms in both Seattle and Bellevue, Washington, provided prewire options and audio/video upgrades for building residents. After completing a custom system for the penthouse owner, Definitive’s Kevin Flandreau began this installation. He says it’s probably the most technical system in the entire building. “This client is very particular. He’s familiar with the latest technology, and he’s had automation systems before. So he knew just what he wanted and how he wanted things to work.”

The now spacious layout has one wing with two bedrooms for the children, a guest bedroom, bathroom, craft area, and playroom. The center of the condo includes the living room, dining room, and kitchen. And the second wing contains the client’s home office, master suite, and bathroom.

With lots of windows and plenty of natural light throughout, the condo is best suited for flat-panel displays. In fact, every room in the condo has one, including both bathrooms and even the master closet.

A projector was not a possibility in the living room, even if the client wanted one. “The ceiling in the living room is concrete, so there was no drop to put one in there,” explains Flandreau. Instead, Definitive Audio installed a Runco PlasmaWall PL-61DHD plasma HDTV above the fireplace. The fireplace itself is just decorative. “You can actually crawl up inside of it,” says Flandreau. Conveniently, the living room backs right up to the playroom. This lets the owner access the back of that room’s Sony KDS-60A2000 SXRD HDTV.

A Lutron lighting- and shade-control system with standard keypads is set up throughout the condo. Flandreau says a Crestron overlay automates all of the subsystems.

Additionally, the condo has motion detectors. Off the main entrance, a hallway leads to the wing with the master bedroom and office. The corridor is dark wood and lined with bookshelves on each side. Lights automatically turn on and then stay on for a few moments depending on where a person goes.

In the master bedroom, there’s another 61-inch Runco plasma, along with a Crestron TPMC-4X touchpanel to control local TVs. The room also features a wired Crestron TPS-1700 control, which lets the client control anything in the house. The Crestron’s coolest function, says Flandreau, is the alarm clock. The touchpanel itself is a clock. You can program a series of actions to occur when the alarm goes off, appropriate to the time of day. In the morning, for example, this home’s blackout shades turn up very slowly. When they reach a certain height, the TV turns on at a low volume. Then the sunshades start to roll up as the volume increases to reach its preset volume.

If the homeowner steps into the bathroom, he doesn’t have to miss a moment of TV. The master bath features a Runco CR-40HD LCD HDTV and B&W CCM-80 in-ceiling speakers. The bathroom also has a pair of SolidDrive SD1g speakers (perfect for vertical or horizontal mounting on shower glass) so the owner can hear the TV as he showers.

Inside the master closet is another LCD, a 26-inch Runco CR-26HD. The motion detector triggers it to automatically turn on CNN, and it follows any change in channel from the master bath. The office, which also has a pool table, features a Runco CW-50MC plasma HDTV and B&W CCM-80 in-ceiling speakers.

A condo doesn’t have to be cramped or unconnected. With lights, motion, and plenty of action, this condo not only provides a comfortable living space, but a high-tech haven.

CONTACT Definitive Audio, (425) 746-3188, (206) 524-6633,