A Celebration of Collaboration

It was surprising to learn that an award-winning home technology integrator I recently interviewed rarely works with architects and builders on his residential projects. This electronics contractor told me that of 80 or so projects in a given year, he works with an architect only three or four times.

I’m sure the 76 projects in which Rick Ho, owner of London Audio in Ontario, doesn’t work with an architect are beautiful, and I’m also sure these homes function beautifully thanks to every modern technological convenience available. But I doubt they are award winners.

It takes close collaboration between all key players on a custom home project to produce an award winner. More importantly, the collaboration must begin on day one, or as early in the design process as possible. Only then can a design/build team truly deliver their best.

The home in our cover story is one of the projects on which Ho collaborated with an architect. And, no surprise, it’s a CEDIA silver medal winner. This project is an example of the design/build process operating to perfection, with architect, builder, technology integrator and interior designer putting personal agendas aside to focus on delivering the client’s dream and nothing else.

The most challenging aspect of designing this home was incorporating a large flat-screen TV into the home’s main fireplace. Big deal, you might think, but it wasn’t as simple as mounting a TV above the fireplace. This TV is hidden behind the wall, and is revealed when a motorized panel retreats into and then up the inside of the wall. If you don’t know to look for the outline of the panel that hides the TV, you won’t see it. Take a look at the main photo on page 21 and admire how seamlessly technology blends with high-end design.

It required six sets of drawings, weeks of time and collaboration with a fifth player — the millwork contractor — to get the fireplace looking slick and working properly. Tolerances were “zilch” as Ho puts it, and the mechanics of making that panel disappear were more complicated than one might imagine. With teamwork and careful planning, a solution surfaced.

This home also includes a TV that pops up from the footboard of the bed in the master bedroom, his and hers TVs masked behind the mirror in the master bathroom, control panels strategically placed at the ends of counters, cabinets and doorways, and a glass-encased wine cellar that doubles as a work of art. The wine cellar is on display as the centerpiece of the home. Similar masterpieces can be found at some of the finest restaurants you’ve ever been to.
All of this techno-wizardry comes courtesy of the design/build process, and professionals who know that it takes true teamwork to create a custom home of this caliber. Upon seeing what is possible by working together toward a common goal, why wouldn’t you use design/build on your next project?

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