Solutions that Make Ideas Take Flight
BuroHappold Engineering, on the design team with Ball-Nogues Studio, worked directly with Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) on our largest installation to date, a public art piece in the north skylight of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
The sculpture is a sequence of hanging bead chains of varying lengths that produces a cloud-like appearance beneath the skylight. Embodying qualities of light and space, the colorful installation has been designed to inspire quiet contemplation amidst the chaotic activity of the busy airport.
BuroHappold had to ensure the proper weight distributions for the hanging the elaborate bead chain shapes. Because this was such a large scale sculpture, it required additional computational analysis. This installation also had to be able to withstand a seismic event.
BuroHappold performed form-finding analysis to establish the hanging bead chain shapes based upon weight distributions, as well as the applied loads when suspended from the primary structure of the building. The computational design process ensured the form-found relaxed position of each catenary chain satisfied the intended aesthetic vision of the artist, while also ensuring the structural performance of the sculpture would not be compromised during a seismic event.
Our specialist team applied an in-house analysis tool that has been continuously developed by the firm since the 1970s. It was first used on projects with Frei Otto and used most recently on the large scale Millennium Dome project in London, an exhibition space roof the largest of its kind in the world. To put in perspective the complexity of the Air Garden project, the digital analysis model required a volume of data 50 times larger than that required for the complex Millennium Dome.
From the beginning, BuroHappold was involved in several work sessions with LAWA and the facilities team to coordinate the actual installation as well as ongoing maintenance requirements and schedules. BuroHappold provided onsite support during installation, and since the sculpture had to be moved twice for preferred placement, a lengthy approvals process with LAWA was undertaken as well.
Services and approach
When we integrate our specialist teams around an approach, the benefits to the client multiply