Cloud Nine

BlissHTA Traveled to the Rockies to Create a Multi-million-Dollar Project for a Long-Time Client
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Will you take this homeowner to be your lawfully wedded client?

Its both a rhetorical question and a theme at Bliss Home Theaters & Automation Inc., in Westlake Village, California. Owned by CEO Robert Bliss and his brother, CTO George Bliss, the company specializes in high-end residential systems design and installation for a select clientele, some 95 percent of whom are long-term or repeat customers.

BlissHTA recently completed a $4.3 million AV project in the Colorado high country for one such client, in a home featuring a dedicated theater with $1 million in electronics, a bowling alley, and 140 Sonance Virtuoso speakers throughout the house. With two RACK2 processors and two PRO2 lighting processors, the project is one of BlissHTAs most ambitious to date, encompassing a 33,000-square-foot home. A variety of touch panels serve the system including several TPS-6000s. A high-resolution Axis PTZ camera provides mountain and ski run views, which may be viewed on the AV system and selected touch panels. An Crestron e-control Xpanel program allows the client remote monitoring and control of systems such as gate and door access.

The system, which also controls window shades, distributed AV, lighting, security cameras, intercom, pool and spa elements, and a Davis Instruments Weather Pro II station with a five-day forecast, extends to the exterior where it monitors a heated driveway and controls massive doors to a six-car garage and a separate maintenance garage.
The ski-in ski-out home, on pristine slopes, is the fourth BlissHTA project for a high-tech entrepreneur and his family. BlissHTA also designed and installed extensive AV systems for the clients homes in Los Angeles and Hawaii, and for his corporate offices.

Once BlissHTA had proven its ability to design and install a Crestron Smart home system that worked in the clients Los Angeles home, they were given the green light for the Colorado home, George Bliss said. The client wants all his homes to be standardized so that touch panels have identical buttons. He wants to be able to navigate his music systems the same way in every location. The lights have different names, but the procedures are standardized.

The system, installed by four BlissHTA team members, Matt Eytchison, Adam Dunlop, Guy Levandofsky, and Rory Roach, required a year to install and refine, Bliss said, including pulling about 100 miles of wire. The installers often snowboarded to work in the morning, he added. That was a first for us.

Custom-built of stone and wood, the U-shaped Colorado home features interconnecting sections integrated together around a large central courtyard. The main house includes the kitchen, dining rooms, and family living quarters. An entertainment wing features the home theater as well as a bowling alley, game and billiards room, and sports lounge. Other wings include a guesthouse large enough to accommodate a visiting family, and a carriage house with its own spa. Interior design for the home, including the theater, was provided by Colleen Goodwin of Cole Martinez Curtis and Associates, in Marina del Rey.

Because of the size and scope of the project, the client was given a three-year warranty, Bliss said. Most have a one-year warranty and all of our programming and systems are maintained remotely, but we did this to ease any potential concerns.

The 11-seat red velvet and gold home theater is the jewel in the crown, complete with a curtained stage where the clients children can perform plays. The room, Bliss said, incorporates every available technology from the powerful Krell Master Series 7.1 system to the Stewart Filmscreen digital screen, a four-way 15-foot wide screen controlled by a Kaleidescape server, a Digital Projection IS8-2K projector fed by a Faroudja DVP 1080 video processor, and two D-Box Odyssee motion stimulator systems, controlled by a TPMC-10 and TPS-6000. The projector is located in a climate-controlled booth above the seating area behind white water optical glass, as in commercial theaters.

The theater also utilizes Kaleidescape script control, and the client can play a script with an introduction to the theater, with scenes from various movies. He also can demo the D-Box choosing action scenes from any movie. This theater floats inside of another room to reduce sound transmission, Bliss said. The Krell system rocks and it hits hard. We wanted to create a performance level room, recreating the sound of a rock concert. When it comes to large theaters with high quality sound, only Krell can achieve that with so much detail.

The single-lane bowling alley, with Cosmic Bowl, a concept designed by BlissHTA, creates an atmosphere of bowling in a disco. The alley features disco lights and Sonance speakers installed down the length of the lane, a fog machine, and Miller & Kreisel MX 350 subwoofers. A TPS-6000 Touch the PC feature controls pinsetter and scoring computer, AV system, and lighting.

BlissHTA systems engineer William Brewer, a former aerospace engineer, handled the complex engineering and software for the project. I started surveying the cabling systems and taking notes on the project in 2002, he said. The dry wall was on but the client wanted various additions and changes, including adding another wing under the garages. To do that, they took out a lot of rock under the garages to accommodate a massage room, sauna, laundry, and three bedrooms.

The Crestron lighting system, with more than 600 loads including exterior lighting, utilizes two Pro2 processors networked together, Brewer said. Due to the size of the home and the large amount of AV and Crestron lighting equipment in the house, two equipment rooms were used. Some of the lighting loads in rooms in the middle of the house were wired to one equipment room and other loads went to the other equipment room. This meant that the lighting in some rooms was controlled by two different lighting processors, leading to a complex inter-processor link so that the light in the split rooms appear to operate in a unified manner.

Everything is networked together and every processor talks to every other one, Brewer said. All of the large touch panels are connected to three processors at the same time via ethernet: There is extensive use of ethernet networking and everything that can use ethernet is using ethernet.

Brewer estimates his total time onsite at the mountain house to be at least three months. I did all the programming myself, he said. Ive worked on huge aerospace jobs before but this was big, and the challenge was getting the programming to the point where it runs for hundreds of days at a time with no problems.

Among Brewers favorite aspects of the project is a table drawer in front of the clients theater chair housing a retractable TPS6000 panel. By pushing a button on the table, the panel pops up to let him preview and watch movies. Micro switches on the chair itself ensure that the drawer retracts when the theater seat is reclined. The retractable design was conceived by Matt Cosman of MK 1 Studio, Salt Lake City. Cosman also designed a motorized lift for a plasma TV in the master bedroom and an engraved wooden panel in the master guest bedroom that opens to reveal a plasma TV.

BlissHTA already has returned to Hawaii to fully automate the tiki torches on the property so they no longer have to be manually ignited. The Colorado house will require maintenance and upgrades as well, Bliss said, and well visit there once a year, hopefully during snowboard season.

Karen Mitchell is a freelance writer living in Boulder, Colorado.

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