When the Port of Los Angeles began construction on the new, expanded Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX three years ago, there was an unspoken understanding that the new structure would have to be an architectural tour-de-force, and a befitting 'first impression' for this iconic international city.
Anticipation turned to pride when the stunning new terminal was unveiled at a special commissioning ceremony on February 18th. Among the attendees were past and present Los Angeles mayors, along with airport officials, and the joint design team from Fentress Architects and HTNB Corporation.
Expansive and airy in design, the new terminal greets international travelers with a bright, open floor plan, high ceilings, and enough glass to pull in the welcome glow of southern California's most ample natural resource.
With its towering walls and abundant reflective surfaces, the Fentress and HTNB teams knew early on that the new space would present some unique acoustical challenges. They turned to Whittier California-based VSA Associates, an acoustical consulting firm with more than 20 years' experience and a client list that includes Hilton Hotels, Caltrans, and Arizona State University.
What VSA's design team created was a sophisticated system based around ICONYX digitally steerable arrays from Renkus-Heinz. As Michael Kalmanson, vice president at VSA Associates, explained, "the ICONYX systems allows us to direct sound exactly where we needed it to be, while avoiding difficult reflective surfaces or wasting energy outside of the listening areas."
The new International Terminal features 14 ultra-modern gates with facilities to accommodate today's larger, trans-oceanic aircraft like the Airbus A360 and Boeing 747-B. A combination of IC16 and IC8 arrays are deployed throughout the terminal, all fully concealed within the structural detailing. "We selected IC16s or IC8s, depending on ceiling height and how far we needed to throw the sound," says Kalmanson.
But the undeniable crown jewel of the new terminal is the 150,000-square foot, $1.9 billion Antonio R. Villaraigosa Pavilion, home to premier dining, shopping and relaxation services, along with an equally impressive AV information hub.
"At 80 feet high with tons of glass, the pavilion was one of the more challenging spaces," admitted Kalmanson. "We opted for the ICONYX IC16 arrays there, and then dialed in the multiple steering lobes to target individual listening areas while ensuring that sound didn't splash into the aisles or up onto the walls."
Kalmanson continued, "The ability to define multiple steering lobes from a single array is one of the most compelling aspects of the ICONYX system-especially for a job like this. You can literally steer a portion of the array down 30 degrees, the next part down 15 degrees, and the final portion straight out. It's extremely sophisticated equipment that offers an amazing amount of control."
Pulling everything together for the expansive new terminal is a multi-zone paging system from Innovative Electrical Design [IED], which synchronizes the massive flight information displays and PA systems throughout the pavilion and terminals. The IED system combines the audio into zones for easy operation and adjustment during heavy traffic times.
"In most places, the ICONYX arrays are assigned to their own paging zone, but in some instances we combined multiple arrays into a group zone," said Kalmanson. "Each zone is tuned perfectly for the space. We even have ambient noise compensation, which automatically raises or lowers the output depending on crowd noise."
Hawthorn, CA-based Direct AV handled installation duties. Working closely with the architects, Direct AV ensured a highly finished installation, with minimal visual impact. As a result, all ICONYX arrays are flush mounted into existing structural elements throughout the terminal, with only their grills visible to visitors.
While Kalmanson comfortably credits the power of the ICONYX system as an essential ingredient in the successful design, he also notes the support provided by Renkus-Heinz directly.
"I simply don't know of a better product for jobs like this than ICONYX," he concluded. "But I'm also pleased that Renkus-Heinz was so involved, from modeling the spaces in EASE, to ensuring that we had exactly what we needed to meet our schedule from start to finish. I couldn't be happier."