Installations: S.E.A.L. of Approval

Chris Wyllie has had his share of tough missions. As a Navy SEAL from 1994 to 2000, he was dispatched to the Persian Gulf, where he drove high-speed cigarette boats, supervised military electronics, and gathered photo intelligence. But nothing Chris encountered there would prepare him for the custom installation he'd supervise at the Kwok/Williams duplex apartment in New York City's Chelsea district. It would be a job tainted by scandal, infused with urgency, and requiring the ability to forge détente. Plus, it would be run by two savvy - and very detail-oriented - taskmasters.

In 2004, Chris launched his Long Island-based install shop, S.E.A.L. Solutions - as in Security, Electronics, Audio, and Lighting. And late last year, he received a desperate phone call from Jeffrey Williams and Jimmy Kowk. Their home renovation was well underway, employing a team of lighting designers, electricians, construction folk, and a custom installer, who was supposed to set up a projection system, multizone audio, a media command center - the works. Only thing is, halfway into the job, the installer took Jimmy and Jeffrey's money and ran. As in absconded. (More on him later.)

Even if that installer had stuck around, the project was already quite a challenge. Way before any thought would be given to auditioning speakers, there was the dilemma of the apartment itself.

Located on the second and third floors of a 112-year-old, seven-story building - a piano factory until 1981 - the Kwok/Williams co-op was quite crap-tastic, suffering from (among other things) warped floors, boxed-in alcoves, angled ceilings, and a centrally located staircase that wasted lots of valuable space. (The staircase would later be moved flush to a wall to "open up" the apartment.)