Situated just off the coast of Miami’s South Beach is Star Island, a stretch of land that is home to some of the brightest stars from the worlds of sports and entertainment – Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, Shaquille O’Neal and Gloria Estefan, to name a few. At the heart of the island sits its crown jewel: a newly built, 25,000sq-ft waterfront Mediterranean villa that boasts vaulted ceilings, voluminous domes, gazebos, fountains, a dual-winged grand staircase and at its centre, a two-story piazza courtyard lined with Roman columns and loggias.
Despite the villa’s many architectural features, John Forte, founder and president of Forte Properties, says his home’s ultimate X-Factor is its sophisticated smart home infrastructure completely controlled by an ELAN Entertainment and Control System that is woven through every thread of the palatial villa.
“Owners of high-end, luxury estates such as Forte’s Star Island villa expect their home to be outfitted with next-generation technology that is easy-to-use and fully-functional, but virtually invisible to the eye,” says Raul Gonzalez, president of technology integration firm R&M Systems Group. “That’s precisely what we delivered: a sophisticated network of cutting-edge, interconnected AV, security, climate, lighting, and pool/ spa subsystems, united and managed with a seamlessly integrated ELAN control system.”
According to John, he wanted a control system that covered the entire 25,000sq-ft villa without jeopardising the home’s architectural and design aesthetic.
“I need to be able to control the villa’s audio, video, lighting, climate and security system from anywhere in the home,” John emphasises. “And I want to do so without sacrificing the classic beauty of the home’s architecture with clunky technology.”
Luckily, no sacrifice was required – just a bit of design work from Raul and a next-generation control system from ELAN.
“To build the villa’s ‘brain,’ we integrated over 65 separate ELAN components including seven Systems Controllers, seven Integrated Multi-Room Audio Amplifiers/Controllers, two Communications Controllers, 12 handheld remotes and 26 in-wall touch panels,” explains Raul. “By doing so, we delivered Mr. Forte, his family and guests a highly-intuitive, unified ELAN system that controls all connected technology throughout his sprawling property.”
To successfully integrate AV technology throughout the home without infringing on its architectural integrity, Raul collaborated closely with the project’s interior designer, Perla Lichi, ASID, of Perla Lichi Design Luxury.
“In a residence of this calibre, technology should be experienced to the fullest, but not necessarily noticed,” explains Perla. “One must hear music, without seeing speakers; know a television is available, without seeing a black box hanging from the wall. This is the challenge we face regularly and it’s a challenge that we conquered with this home.”
To make the villa’s 112 Niles in-ceiling speakers disappear from sight, many were embedded in the ceiling’s hand painted Venetian frescoes or wood-panels and painted flush by the artist himself to perfectly match their surroundings. Additionally, components of the family room, bar and master suite’s surround sound system, including Sunfire subwoofers and amps, sit behind Moroccan filigree, or perforated screens, hiding the technology without inhibiting the audio performance.
Epitomising the villa’s convergence of technology with design is a $500k ELAN-controlled home theatre, outfitted with nearly a dozen cinema-quality in-wall speakers and subwoofers that are virtually invisible to the eye.
In the piazza courtyard, roof deck and outdoor pool area, speakers and subwoofers are tucked within bushes and fixed in tree canopies, creating the effect of an invisible sound system that blends naturally with its surroundings.
Beyond entertainment, ELAN allows John to manage a security system comprised of hi-res dome cameras, photoelectric smoke detectors, mechanical heat detectors and professional-grade sirens with stainless steel enclosures.
“From anywhere in the world, Mr. Forte can view real-time footage of his property on his ELAN app,” notes Raul. “He can turn cameras on and off, control the laser grid that protect his boats, dock and surrounding property, and if suspicious activity is detected, he’s immediately notified via the ELAN app.”
In addition to the security system, the roughly 38 rooms of the property boast an AV system that includes 112 Niles in-ceiling speakers; 10 Sunfire subwoofers and amplifiers; 23 televisions, ranging from 55in to 70in; 10 surround sound systems, including a cinema-quality home theatre equipped with a TheatreScope Classic projector, from Digital Projection, a 133in CineCurve screen, from Stewart Filmscreen, a power filtration and conditioning system from Furman, and a sophisticated Panamax power management system with BlueBOLT remote energy management to protect the home’s tech infrastructure from electrical storms common in the Miami area.
“A sophisticated ‘smart home’ is hidden within every crevice of a 15th-century Mediterranean Villa,” concludes John. “That’s the effect Raul and Perla created through their perfect blend of technology and design and that’s what makes this home magnificent.”