#TBT: Controlling a $15M Bel Air Mansion
For Throwback Thursday, CE Pro goes back to 2011 and takes a look at a 12,000-square-foot masterpiece in Bel Air.
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Click here to view photos of this mansion.

By Jason Knott | 11.13.2014
For this edition of Throwback Thursday, go back to 2011 and explore this Bel Air masterpiece featuring automated waterfalls, whole-house music, climate control and 180-plus lighting loads.

Some houses are just jinxed. That might be the case with this Westco Smart Homes project: a 12,000-square-foot modern-style masterpiece that sits in a perfect location in wealthy Bel Air, Calif.

In the past six years, the house, which was originally designed as an Italian villa, has suffered an indoor fire, a lightning strike and an earthquake. Through all of that, the house has changed ownership, changed contractors and changed developers.

But that’s just the sort of challenge that Westco Smart Homes owner Jack Goldberg likes.

Westco took over the job in 2010 from another integrator who had completed the automation and A/V systems “to about 80 percent.” The $14.9 million home has six bedrooms and nine baths, automated waterfalls, whole-house music, climate control, lighting control, 47 Vantage Bticino Axolute keypads, four in-wall touchpanels (one 10-inch and three 6.5-inch), two 7-inch wireless tablets, seven enclosures with 22 modules and 180-plus lighting loads.

Photos: Controlling $15M Bel Air Mansion with $250K in Equipment

The Vantage InFusion control system also manages the access control to the front gate and is linked to a single CCTV driveway camera. In the backyard, the system drives a Jandy pool and spa controller and four 2,000-watt outdoor heaters.

In terms of audio, there are three 4-zone Vantage Axium systems, some of which are being pre-amped out to Niles amplifiers for large common areas. In all, there are 12 audio zones. From a source standpoint, there is an iPort FS23 in-wall iPod dock. Other equipment includes a Lexicon MC12 processor, Conrad Johnson amps, a Samsung Blu-ray player in the home theater and a Digital Projection projector. The cabling is from AudioQuest and Monster.

For climate control, there are 17 zones of thermostat control running in parallel with a Honeywell dampening system. There are three external temperature sensors also. In all, there is an estimated $250,000 worth of equipment, including over six-figures for the Vantage system alone.

“There’s really six ways to control this house,” says Goldberg. “You can control it from desktop software, the keypads throughout the house, through the in-wall touchscreens, through the wireless tablets, from the owner’s iPad, and from an Android/BlackBerry. Also, we have RTI integration throughout the house, with the RTI T-2C+ and the XP6 we can get full 2-way communication with our controller.”

The biggest challenges were related to the construction. When the fire happened about two years ago, it tore out most of the center of the house. Also, because there had been so many integrators and owners in the house, and changes of style, there have been a number of philosophical changes as well. Indeed, some of the equipment in the rack is discontinued and old. Some of it was original equipment installed from the beginning of the very first installation.

Other programmed modes are “Chill,” “Party” and “Away.” There are several built-in widgets, including one for the security camera and one to check the weather.

Prior the recent sale of the property, the automation system was set up to allow Realtors to showcase the home with a “Welcome” mode that turns on all the lights, all the zones of audio, the theater and the pool fountain. So within 20 to 30 seconds, the house is a complete showroom.


Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.