The songs of classic jazz artists may well be confined to lounges and vinyl records, but at the Americana at Brand shopping center in Glendale, California, you can also hear this as you sit atop a park bench or shop at your favorite retail outlet. This audio installation set around a 75-store outdoor mall is set in coordination with a focal fountain centerpiece, and is aimed at providing each patron a musical aesthetic and memorable experience.
Completed in May 2008 as a mixed use shopping center and residential development, Americana at Brand's major attraction is a two-acre grassy knoll featuring an 80-foot "dancing" fountain with 131 choreographed jets, with stores and a playground curving around each of its sides. The design elements feature Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Mediterranean styles, combined to give visitors the impression of shopping in a fantasyland.
With this grand vision is mind, Aaron Haas of the developers firm, Caruso Affiliated, contacted PlanNet Consulting to request their technology consulting services on the project. Tim Waters, a notable audio systems engineer, took on the project without knowing how large and impactful the end result would be.
"Americana at Brand has a reputation for providing a high-quality shopping experience, fine dining and theater entertainment for a neighborhood full of high-end modern apartment and condominium homes," said Waters. "We knew coming into this project that the needs included a high quality distributed sound system throughout the property and increased theatrical sound capabilities at the fountain. Caruso Affiliated saw the opportunity to create a visually brilliant water fountain show tied directly to sound, so our team jumped at the opportunity to make this come to life."
The installation of this advanced system has helped it to become a major attraction not only for shoppers, but also for local residents seeking to escape into the mystical ambiance of the water and light show. This show is run daily within a park located in the central area of the Americana at Brand mall.
In order to fully develop a comprehensive system, as well as to maintain the elegance of the surrounding area, PlanNet and Caruso engaged the help of Shawn Siqueira, an audio/visual integrator with Pro Sound & Video to team up with PlanNet. Siqueira's expertise came in handy when determining how the complicated system would be programmed and implemented.
"Shawn was instrumental in helping us find new ways to integrate this audio sound system, including numerous speakers, without making them visible to the public," said Waters. "She was able to integrate our comprehensive plan that allowed for the control of sound direction and audio sources surrounding the water fountain area, as well as the entire space. Looking at the fountain, you would think that sound was coming directly from the water itself."
For the audio system, Waters and Siqueira went with the Oregon-based manufacturer of AudiaFLEX, Biamp Systems. Both attributed the selection to flexibility, in order to handle the complex project requirements, as well as great product specs, excellent audio distribution options, affordable prices, an extensive warranty on all products, and great customer support.
"The distributed audio system needed to have auxiliary inputs to be able to patch in certain audio sources such as an iPod, while at the same time, allowing us to program sound schedules and audio distribution," said Siqueira. Biamp's AudiaEXPI and AudiaEXPO were utilized, as both were essential in providing extensions to system boundaries by allowing for inputs/outputs in remote locations.
"Biamp's daVinci™ programming software allowed us to bridge all of these needs into an application that could be easily managed and operated. Every source of sound within this facility became available at our fingertips." This allows the fountain sound system, as well as distributed speakers surrounding the mall facility, to be controlled remotely by one computer.
"One of the greatest challenges in the Americana at Brand project, was to involve a broad range of sound equipment without compromising the physical features or visual appeal of the outdoor scenery," remarked Siqueira. "Integrated into the heart of the structured audio system was AudiaFLEX, providing unprecedented control of the system with the ultimate flexibility in design".
In addition, the system features 105 JBL Control 25AV surface-mount loudspeakers, 126 JBL Control 26CT ceiling speakers, and numerous JBL SB210 subwoofers.
Wet Designs, a fountain designer out of Sun Valley, California, who has constructed fountain displays for Las Vegas hotels Mirage® and Bellagio®, developed the fountain feature. The cheerful, electric atmosphere of Americana at Brand had significant influence on the show's play list, boasting a mix of jazz, classical and contemporary music.
"This installation was meticulous so that the atmosphere created was a visual and audio 'tour de force' for anyone who experiences it," said Waters. "We wanted to ensure that sound throughout the space not only captivated an audience, but motivated them to make the fountain show a must-see every time they come back to visit."
About PlanNet Consulting
PlanNet Consulting is an independent information technology-consulting firm with two offices in California, one in Brea and another in Woodland Hills. The company provides objective professional guidance, process management and implementation project management services for a wide range of communications technology systems, services and infrastructure.
About Pro Sound & Video
Pro Sound & Video is a recognized authority in integrated entertainment systems. After over 30 years, they have grown to provide nationwide service in the design, engineering, building, and service of automated systems for sound, video, broadcast and TV, and are still moving forward.