Dedicated to making every project better than their last, Questar Properties has been developing vibrant and award-winning residential communities for over four generations. With the unveiling of their newest 44-story tower, the property at 414 Light Street is a luxurious and amenity-driven living space designed by the architecture firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz, with an interior design by Kari Whitman. Wanting to create a completely unique experience unlike anything Baltimore had ever seen, the development team also created an extravagant rooftop deck on the exterior of the 7th floor using two, high-definition FLEXStorm 8mm LED video displays from Nashville-based PixelFLEX™.
“This was a new construction project, built on a little over one acre of what used to be a parking lot,” began Justin Kennell, Development Manager, Questar Properties. “The building itself stands just under 500 feet and has 394 luxury apartment units, with over 12,000 square feet of retail space and a 469-space parking garage. On our 7th floor, we have an amenity area that is roughly an acre in size, with two-thirds of that space on the exterior of the building where we placed the two FLEXStorm LED video screens.”
Built to withstand the challenges of adverse weather conditions while still providing a breathtaking visual experience, the IP-65 rated FLEXStorm LED was designed to create a dynamic outdoor environment. Utilizing adjustable sensors that communicate directly with the cabinets control system, FLEXStorm has variable brightness offerings to make sure it looks its best, day or night. Additionally, using a cloud-based content management system, updating the FLEXStorm is simple and easy, and the fully front-serviceable panels allow for quick access to the electronics and data control for any onsite service.
“With the construction of the property at 414 Light Street, we were ultimately looking to set ourselves apart from other apartment communities in the Baltimore area,” continued Kennell. “We wanted to do something truly unique to the market, so we focused on activation and engagement on our amenity deck. Our goal was to activate the living experience at 414 Light Street and create a place where residents could actively engage with one another.”
As the development team began to research the right technology that could provide the dynamic, outdoor visual experience desired, they knew they would have to compete with ambient daylight. Looking to see what real-world solutions others had found successful, they soon discovered one of the primary advantages of LED video.
“We looked at a couple of different technologies for use on the amenity deck,” added Kennell. “The first was a large television that would be visible against sunlight, and the second was a projection system set-up. Since we had a very specific vision for what we wanted it to accomplish, neither of these were actually ideal. As we looked around for what else might be available, we took inspiration from a community on the West Coast using PixelFLEX LED video in a similar application”
Ready to move forward with the installation of the LED video walls, the physical placement would be key to the atmosphere on the amenity deck. Wanting to establish a signature design element that would draw residents together, two FLEXStorm video displays were installed back-to-back to create one seamless visual experience.
“The 16-panel LED video walls are mounted inside a structured wall that ties into the concrete slab underneath using a steel frame which attaches directly to the panels,” explained Kennell. “We surrounded the structure with decorative tile, and each screen measures approximately 16-feet wide and 9-feet high. One screen faces a multi-purpose lawn area and the other screen faces the pool deck, so it essentially looks as if there is one, dual-sided LED screen. With it being in a central location, we think of it as the entertainment anchor to the amenity deck, giving our residents a unique opportunity to connect with one another over community-sponsored events.”
Turning their attention to the control aspects of the LED video screens, the development team wanted to provide both a user-friendly and comprehensive content management system. Knowing that the onsite staff would have a number of different display needs, they created a simple yet expansive design with multiple inputs for the daily operation.
“For the everyday use, we wanted the most flexibility out of the control for the video content,” said Kennell. “More than just showing movies or sporting events, we also wanted to use the system to inform residents about different events in the building; such as fitness classes or cooking classes. We also have the amenity deck audio system paired with the LED video so that we have full surround-sound capabilities for the multiple video inputs from either a cable box, Blu-Ray player, Apple TV system, or a BrightSign custom content player as well.”
As time approached for the grand opening of 414 Light Street, there was a great sense of exhilaration surrounding the introduction Baltimore’s newest downtown living experience. With residents ready to begin their new life as part of unique community, Kennell is pleased to acknowledge the partnerships behind the scenes that helped make the project a complete success.
“There was a lot of anticipation surrounding the debut of the LED video system,” concluded Kennell. “When we premiered the first movie, there was excitement from both our team and the residents, and everyone couldn’t help but to stare at the screens. Knowing that we were creating something truly unique in the Baltimore apartment living community, it was very important that we pick the right partners on the project, and PixelFLEX was excellent in all regards.”