|Along with SpeakerCraft outdoor speakers in the rafters and a Control 4 touchscreen controller, the palapa living area also holds the equipment rack for the house's 13-zone music system. (Usually stored in a climate-controlled closet, the rack was placed in the room for this photo.)|
The construction methods and materials used in Mexico are very different from what custom installers are familiar with in the U.S. "You're mostly dealing with concrete-block construction," Garipay notes. "So there are no studs or rafters to run wires through. Because you have to run conduit through the block in advance, there's a lot more preplanning with the wiring infrastructure."
Garipay also had to get used to a different job-site hierarchy. "Down here, the architect has a lot of pull," he says. "He or she oversees the project, whereas in the States you're usually dealing only with an interior designer or the general contractor. Here, the general contractor defers to the architect. But that's actually good for us because we're usually able to create blueprints, whereas in the U.S., builders and clients sometimes balk at paying for a detailed system design. Since we were able to do that easily with this project, it made the job go smoother."
Along with those factors, Casa Fortuna presented its own set of challenges. "It's built hacienda-style," says Garipay, "which means the buildings aren't connected. The palapa is a combination dining room, living room, and bar, and it's fully open to the elements. The doors can be closed in bad weather, but typically it's an open-air environment." For that reason, the palapa's equipment rack is stored out of sight in a climate-controlled closet.
The centerpiece of Casa Fortuna's system is the media room in the building that also houses the kitchen and the pantry. Its focal point is a Mitsubishi 65-inch DLP rear-projection 1080p HDTV (see the equipment list), which rests on a custom-built cadenza flanked by Triad InRoom Bronze LCR speakers that act as the left and right front channels of the 7.1-channel system. A Bronze LCR center speaker sits on a shelf above the TV, and, like the left and right speakers, it's painted to match the walls. Four Triad InWall Bronze/4 Surround speakers handle the surround duties, while an InRoom Bronze PowerSub 10-inch subwoofer is tucked into a cabinet against a side wall.
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