Modernizing the vision set forth by legendary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has partnered with energy consultant Big Green Zero and custom electronics integrator HomeTech AV Solutions to install advanced energy efficiency technologies and the ELAN g! Entertainment and Control System at the iconic Taliesin West campus in the Arizona desert.
With initial design and construction dating back to 1937, this current home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture continues to advance Wright’s legacy of architectural innovation.
The Energizing Taliesin West project aims to minimize energy costs and carbon pollution as it works toward creating a grid-neutral campus. The project will provide architectural students with the opportunity to experiment with state-of-the-art conservation and sustainable energy production technologies. After determining that Taliesin West could benefit from substantial energy and financial savings through the installation of these technologies, Big Green Zero was contracted to manage and develop the project.
HomeTech AV Solutions, in partnership with ELAN Home Systems, has designed a unique control system for a unique piece of American history. The initial installation will take place in the original Wright home theater, dubbed “The Cabaret”. After lacking modern lighting, projection and audio systems for decades, The Cabaret has been revitalized with a Da-Lite acoustic fabric screen stretched across the original frame, a new Digital Projection E-Vision projector with a special long throw lens to accommodate the 65-foot throw distance, and fully integrated audio, video and Lutron Radio RA@2 lighting controlled by the ELAN g! system.
There is no way to run new cabling in the stone and concrete building, so the video signal is transmitted wirelessly from the AV receiver to the projector mounted in the projection room. Frank Lloyd Wright designed The Cabaret’s unique uneven-hexagonal shape to have no right angles and to have 20 feet of open space below the front of the theater, which has led sound engineers to determine the space is 95 percent acoustically efficient.
“The space is available to rent for corporate events, so the system will see a lot of use by first-time users with no training or experience,” said Jim Beaumont, president of HomeTech AV Solution. “This was a major consideration in our design and product choices, and the ELAN g! system is the easiest control system I’ve ever used.”
Joe Lautner, Core Brands director of control segment, agrees that the project is a natural candidate for control with the ELAN g! system.
“The g! system is the ideal choice for the Taliesin West project for several reasons, but most of all because it is simple for first-time users to operate and it is virtually unlimited in its expansion potential. The g! system will be operational very early on in the renovation, and as construction continues the g! system will be available to integrate additional core systems across the Taliesin West campus.”
The Cabaret will be used to treat approximately 110,000 annual guests to a short film about Wright’s life and work. The original projector will be preserved in the projection room for tours as well.
“We are very proud to be selected as a partner for this historic restoration and upgrade of all the technological aspects of Taliesin West,” Beaumont added. “We will certainly face some unique installation challenges due to the concrete and stone construction of the buildings and the 80-year-old wiring throughout the premises, and when we are finished, Taliesin West will be a testament to the technological advances of the past century. By combining Frank Lloyd Wright’s legendary architecture with the latest in efficient lighting, AV, solar panels, energy management, security, surveillance and climate control systems, this project will no doubt result in the one of the world’s most historic energy-efficient communities.”
Taliesin West was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982. In 2008, the U.S. National Park Service submitted Taliesin West along with nine other Frank Lloyd Wright properties to a tentative list for World Heritage Status. The 10 sites have been submitted as one total site.