Massachusetts-based Jordan's Furniture, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway, is known for adding its own entertainment twist to the traditional furniture store experience. While shopping for your next dining room table, bedroom suite, or recliner, you can also go "ice skating" on 4,000 square feet of artificial ice, enjoy an IMAX movie, or marvel at a laser light show depending on which New England store you're visiting.
In 2015, Jordan's set out to open its first Connecticut location in New Haven which was to include the world's largest indoor ropes course and an automated water display. President and CEO, Eliot Tatelman, who fondly deems the Jordan's experience as "shoppertainment," envisioned a jaw-dropping and dynamic visual and auditory environment where guests could take a break from shopping the 150,000-square-foot retail showroom.
Clair Solutions was brought in to light and provide audio for the 20,000-square-foot, 60-foot tall structure housing the IT™ Adventure Ropes Course as well as light the stunning exterior marquee consisting of over 300 aluminum chairs. The final product incorporated a remarkable 649 theatrical light fixtures, a main PA of newly-developed curved array technology speaker clusters from Clair Brothers, as well as a number of JBL column speakers for distributed audio.
The Art of Lighting
It was very important for "IT"'s interior to look great from the entrance, from 48 feet in the air, and from anywhere in between. Therefore, Clair Solutions lighting designer, Michelle Caron, regarded the space and the ropes course structure as more of a sculpture than as architecture or a traditional stage. "The many different surfaces throughout the space all had to look great under light: the shiny steel columns, the matte rope elements, the dichroic-flecked floor, and the unfinished concrete walls had to look like one, cohesive design. It was a challenge, but we were able to make that happen for Jordan's," says Caron.
Balancing light levels was very important. The water show, designed and installed by Waltzing Waters, was set to run every 2-3 minutes and looked best under very low light conditions. However, having customers climbing, jumping and zipping high in the air at all times meant that the room could not go dark. To prepare for this, every light fixture location was chosen to keep light away from the 80’x30’ water tank and to carefully control colors and intensities when the water show ran. For contrast, when the show is in its “intermission” look, the lighting design becomes more stimulating with the “IT” logo flying around the room and a bold rainbow wash covering the walls.
In total, the lighting system is comprised of over 200 ETC Source Four LED Series 2 Lustrs and 78 Chromo-Q ColorOne 100's, which provide the bulk of the color changing ambiance of the ropes course. Six High End Solaspot CMY LED moving lights and 14 Rosco Revo Dual Indexing Rotators add movement and texture to the space. Eighty Chauvet Colorado Batten 144 Tours keep the walls in constantly changing, highly saturated colors. The whole system is controlled by an Avolites Quartz with a Titan Mobile backup. Data is distributed via an Enttec DataGate and Pathway Opto-Splitters.
The exterior marquee is lit with 276 Acclaim DynaGraze Exterior HO 4000K fixtures in custom brackets designed by Clair Solutions.
Let Them Be Heard
The audio system designed for the space included a main PA hanging above the water show as well as a distributed system to augment the main PA. The ambient noise of the water fountains posed a challenge reaching noise levels of 80dBA. Sound needed to be clearly audible without being too loud for the public. Clair Solutions audio designer, Jan Luszczek, designed a main PA system of 3x Clair Brothers kiTCURVE12 and 1x CB kiT-Sub clusters a side along with 7x CB 12CX distributed point source speakers and a CB CS218 for some added low end. All main PA speakers are water resistant and strategically placed to provide even, unobstructed, and full-range reproduction for customers in front of the Waltzing Waters. Additionally, 18x JBL CBT 70's and 10x JBL CBT100's were deployed for distributed audio throughout the space. All audio is powered by QSC CXD4.5Q and QSC CXD4.3 amplifiers with QSC Core 250 processing.
The actual mounting and positioning of all equipment for the project was particularly challenging. Since the roof was not structurally capable of handling additional equipment weight, Clair Solutions designers and engineers had to work closely with Ropes Course, Inc. to design custom mounting for nearly every speaker and light fixture so that the equipment was mounted on the ropes course structure itself. This required a tremendous amount of coordination and communication between all trades on the job.
Integration is Key
While both the audio and lighting systems at the IT™ Adventure Ropes Course are impressive on their own, the real magic of this project lies in the way the two seamlessly coordinate to create an incredibly immersive and remarkable display. Clair Solutions designers, Caron and Luszczek, along with the senior programmers from Avolites and QSC worked together to create a custom show control solution running entirely on the Q-sys Core 250. With minimal staff control, the system automatically cues Waltzing Waters shows and intermissions as well as lighting looks and background music. This diverse programming allows for repeat customer visits without repeated looks and songs.
The grand opening on Friday, December 11th included separate press and public openings over 48 hours. The press gala on the first night boasted a high profile VIP-Warren Buffet. Every surface and every light shone bright amidst Mr. Buffet, Mr. Tatelman, the mayor of New Haven and the many distinguished members of New England's business circles. The audio system pumped a beat that set the tone not only for a star-studded opening night but also an exciting future for Jordan's.