LAX GATEWAYPROJECT DETAILS
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Beautification Enhancements Project
Los Angeles, California
Ted Tokio Tanaka, in his role as the Principal Designer, led a team of highly specialized design and engineering consultants for the LAX Beautification Enhancements Program, a comprehensive program designed to improve the function, aesthetic, circulation and wayfinding of this international gateway through the use of architecture, graphics, landscaping, lighting and public art. This innovative urban design project has transformed a public facility into a memorable landmark that reflects the unique cultural identity of the City of Los Angeles.
To ensure the successful completion of the $80 million urban enhancement effort, the project was divided into a series of phases with different tasks and objectives. The primary goal of Phase I was to assess and document the existing conditions of the LAX in order to identify all the inherent problems. The second task was to design and establish a prioritized list of enhancements that would improve the airport’s function and image. The final product of Phase I yielded two comprehensive documents: a research and analysis book with all existing conditions documented, and a master plan for proposed enhancements. The enhancements master plan included the proposed tasks, costs, schedule and a phasing plan. Phase I was completed in December 1998, at which time the Client evaluated the prioritized recommendations for enhancements. The Tanaka Team then proceeded to Phase II, which was the actual design/build portion of the selected beautification enhancements projects. The construction of the Gateway LAX, a segment of Phase II, was completed in time for the Democratic National Convention of 2000.
The Century Boulevard Enhancements Project, a main component of the Gateway LAX, is a prime example of Urban Planning and Design. Formerly, Century Boulevard was a bleak transit corridor into the LAX, with no landmarks or amenities, served primarily by vehicular traffic. The commercial and hotel properties lining Century Boulevard were under-performing, with high vacancy rates and low rental and room rates. After carefully evaluating existing problems, the TTTA Team created a design solution that focused on the grand-scale landscape improvement along Century Boulevard. Through this design plan, the unsightly corridor was immediately transformed into a tree-lined, resort-like promenade.
The central focus of the Gateway LAX design plan was the installation of public art that would express the quintessential identity of Los Angeles and a unique sense of arrival.
Tackling this creative challenge, Tanaka took a role of a “story-teller” channeling multi-faceted stories of “aviation, the city of Los Angeles, and the unique culture of the city” into the design of new public monument. Tanaka designed a pathway of multi-color glass pylons made of a vertical steel truss wrapped with curved translucent glass panels. The 11 ascending pylons, ranging in height from 25 to 100 feet, march down Century Boulevard to render the flight pattern of an airplane taking off into the open sky above the city. The dynamic verticality of the magnificent columns generates the serenity of ancient temples. At the end of the procession of the ascending columns, 15 100-foot-high pylons form a large circle, recalling the formation of the mysterious Stonehenge. While evoking archetypes of transformational spaces from the ancient past, the LAX Gateway monument reveals its Hollywood-inspired “glitzy” side at night, when the bright light of ever-changing colors illuminate the soaring glass columns. Made possible by the cutting-edge lighting technology that gives off 300 different shades of colors within the duration of three hours, the multi-colored lights represent the richness of multi-cultural traditions that characterize the city of Los Angeles.
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