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ETC delivers robust lighting solutions to National Harbor Resort and Convention Center, Maryland


With 470, 000 square feet of flexible convention, meeting, exhibition and pre-function space including a 180, 000 square-foot exhibit hall, four ballrooms ranging in size from 50, 000 to 8, 100 square feet, 74 breakout rooms, and an 18-story, 1.65 acre multi-level atrium, the new Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is said to be the largest non-gaming hotel and convention center on the eastern seaboard. The Gaylord property is the cornerstone of a $4 billion, 300-acre, mixed-use waterfront destination at National Harbor, Maryland, set along a 1 ¼ mile panoramic stretch of the Potomac River in the Washington, D.C. metro area. It opened in spring 2008. ETC control products are at the heart of the lighting system, designed to complement the facility’s architectural spaces, adapt to the needs of a wide range of events, be simple for staff to operate, ensure uninterrupted service in all weather conditions, and deliver a level of quality consistent with other Gaylord properties in the US.

Candela Controls, Inc., based out of Winter Garden, FL was responsible for the entire systems engineering, systems installation supervision, programming and configuration, network construction, and installation of the decorative LED systems both inside the ballrooms and the exterior structure.

According to Bill Ellis, Candela Controls VP of Engineering, "We engineered this system with ETC components due to their reliability, and the interfacing that we were able to work in with the associated Crestron system supplied by the AV contractor. We have been able to integrate tools and simplicity into this very complicated system so that day in and out functions work the way the owner intends, without headaches."

"We were extremely pleased with the support provided by ETC in this project, particularly the assistance of ETC’s project manager Ted Ozimek, and the distribution department. There were some very custom ceiling boxes (800+ of them), and throughout the mockup and trial manufacturing basis, interaction with the team at the factory made the job that much easier."

Meeting and gathering spaces at the new Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center have personality, reliability and flexibility as well as high-quality illumination, thanks in part to ETC solutions. ETC dimming systems are used in most spaces of the building. The ETC lighting package consists of 52 Sensor®+ Advanced Features dimmer racks, four Sensor+ SineWave™ racks, more than 2200 ETC dimmer modules, ETC Unison® architectural processors, and an ETC software control network. In addition, a total of 13 SmartSwitch® relay panels are used, 32 installed Four Port Gateways, 20 portable Four Port Gateways, and two Pharos LPC2 units operating all of the decorative LED fixtures on the exterior of the building.

The two most formal ballrooms — the Cherry Blossom Ballroom and the Woodrow Wilson Ballroom — with ornate plaster finishes and crystal fixtures, are very acoustically sensitive. Thirty-three ETC SineWave dimmer modules, which are designed to completely eliminate filament hum from light fixtures, were specified. The rooms are also outfitted with theatrical rigging gear, including multiple lighting circuits built into the ceiling, to accommodate productions and events ranging from simple to elaborate.

Because the Potomac region is subject to storms, the facility’s lighting systems must be highly redundant, enabling the show to go on in all but the most extreme circumstances. ETC Unison and DimStat™ control software facilitate simple automated and manual control of both the main dimmer racks and the backup dimmer racks. “The network level of control is really pretty easy, ” says Robin Crews, senior associate of Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams, Inc. (WJHW), which provided lighting system design for the building, along with WJHW colleagues Ron Baker and John Mathis. “From the control room you can see each dimmer rack, and it tends to be very graphical in output, so even someone not necessarily highly technically sophisticated (even though the engineers at Gaylord are) can size up problems quickly.” ETC Unison lighting processors, specified by WJHW, control all the architectural lighting in the hotel and convention center.

Chess McKinney, director of project technologies, Gaylord Entertainment, has been WJHW’s main point of contact for AV and lighting control issues on this and other Gaylord projects, past and present. “His input is of great value as it gives us the owner’s and operator’s perspective on each technical system, ” notes Crews.

WJHW went with Advanced Feature ETC Sensor+ dimmers to ensure robust functionality. “Gaylord generally favors the products that will have a longer life, because they are always in use, ” says Crews. “The National Harbor property operates 24/7.”

Another benefit of ETC’s advanced technology is that lighting systems like that at National Harbor may be set up to be monitored from off-site locations, as a value-added service. This extra technical backup helps ensure peace of mind for businesses who cannot tolerate any downtime and who welcome professionals to keep watch over the integrity of their infrastructure.

Photo courtesy of the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, MD

See also:
Michael Hudson of Gaylord Hotels Talks Americana, Opry, Themed Entertainment and the Hospitality Business

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