Working with Architects
Integrating with the masters of the house
By Janet Pinkerton
Cruise the online portfolios of award-winning architects and you'll find residential designs that look jarringly unlike the prize-winning home theaters or media rooms found in CEDIA circles.
These residential designs often feature soaring, clean lines, huge windows that bring the outside in, massive stone fireplaces, a complete lack of visual clutter and a myriad of acoustically brutal surfaces. You might see a lone plasma display starkly placed over a mantle, with nary a speaker in sight.
It makes you wonder how people who live in these houses watch movies with all that ambient light and the seeming lack of an acoustic sweet spot. A dedicated home theater room would feel like a bomb shelter in comparison to these new custom homes. Yet this architectural design aesthetic caters to a tech-savvy clientele.
Architect John Connell of 2morrow Studio in Warren, Vt., is an advisory group member of the American Institute of Architects' national housing committee, focused on the single-family, custom home. "Of all the homes built each year, less than 12 percent of them ever have an architect involved," he says. "That's an inflated figure that includes a developer buying multiple plans from an architect. It's closer to seven percent of new homes designed and built in the U.S. each year that actually have the benefit of an architect."
However, Connell says, "People who want high-end electronic systems—security systems, entertainment systems, communication systems or remote operational systems—tend to be the people who hire architects."
Custom Retailer recently interviewed a handful of architects, Connell included, about consumer technology trends in home design and about what they want from the integrators working on their custom home projects. Some spec out a smaller project with an A/V integrator who then installs it. Others contract larger projects to A/V system design consultants, who then hand off to a local company for installation.