A Crystal Swell

26. 7. 2021, Los Angeles, USA

Ocean waves and the romance of travel collide in a swirl of crystal in West Gates at Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Preciosa Lighting worked with Corgan, who supplied the project’s architectural and interior design services, to create a dynamic installation that attracts travellers from three levels and withstand up to seven degrees on the Richter scale.

Crystal Swell catches travellers’ eyes from three levels of the concourse

Los Angeles is a seismically active area and this factor was one of the reasons Preciosa Lighting was chosen for this project. “We looked for not only incredible design solutions but a company that understood what it would take to construct, to manufacture and certify the installation,” said Brent Kelley, Managing Principal and co-head of the aviation sector at Corgan. “Preciosa ranked top in all the criteria we established. Preciosa envisioned what we were looking for and was innovative in how they designed the fixture itself.”

The seismically active issue was one of the first challenges the design team had to tackle. Preciosa Designer Šárka Olivová worked closely with the in-house R&D team to ensure the planned design, materials, and fixings were not only attractive to look at but safe as well.

Viewing Crystal Swell from the bottom gives a unique perspective of the swirls

“The client really liked our Signature Design Inspiral so we used that as our inspiration for the design,” said Ms. Olivová. The design concept the teams worked on was called ‘ocean swell.’ They borrowed the dynamic ocean theme of the International Terminal’s “breaking wave” roof and injected it with a feel of “mid-century jet age” modern simplicity. The building’s design allows plenty of daylight and ambience to embrace its vibrant interior. Crystal Swell is created from a flexible metal ribbon lined with crystal cut prisms. This gave Ms. Olivová space to be creative within the parameters created by the building’s location.

West Gates at Tom Bradley International Terminal. Home to Crystal Swell

The engineering team had to consider not only what would be the safest and strongest mount, but also what would be in line with the lighting’s design. Fixing ropes were an option, but the number needed would have been intrusive to the design. In the end, it was decided the strongest and most visually appealing mount would be a central tube. They built a metal structure for the middle of the installation. The three crystal ribbons then had to be securely attached to this stable tube.

“Calculations, simulations and testing, all in accordance with seismic active areas, were the three most important aspects the engineering team contributed to this project,” said Radek Pytlík, R&D Engineer at Preciosa Lighting.

Crystal Swell underwent intensive testing in our Innovation Lab

A Big, Colourful Show

For an extra sense of connection and fun, the luminaire features RGBW LED strips. This allows the airport to create various dynamic lighting scenes. “They can do a lot with this installation, colour-wise,” Ms.Olivová said. “They can celebrate winning local sports teams with their colours, show the colours of the US flag for Independence Day, the options are endless.” The installation can be seen from three levels of the airport’s concourse, weighs 4,000 kilograms and stretches more than 17 metres. There is a total of 65 metres of ribbon which include the RGBW LED strips. “Installing this fixture was a challenge in that the chandelier spans three floors and the opening on the second and third levels is small. This didn’t allow for much movement around the fixture,” Mr. Pytlík said.

In the end, the entire Preciosa team who collaborated so long and hard on this very special installation can be proud of their efforts. “We really wanted a piece that was signature, and this piece really fits that component,” said Mr. Kelley. “The reaction that we hope for is that when people come to know this piece, they’ll look at it as the centerpiece of the building and be able to say ‘meet me at the chandelier’.”