Drawing inspiration from the wilderness of the Inland Northwest, NanoLumens installed 22 LED displays in a high-profile intersection within Spokane International Airport, including a central chandelier suspended above the 37,000 square foot rotunda. The second biggest airport in the state of Washington, Spokane International Airport is the gateway to the Inland Northwest, a region containing the city of Spokane, eastern Washington, and northern Idaho. With such an important responsibility to its immediate and extended community, the Spokane Airport Board recognized that to increase upon the 4.1 million passengers they serviced in 2019, they would need to continue modernizing their space. One location within their airport they deemed particularly worthy of a facelift was the Rotunda, a cavernous dome erected in the 1960’s that functioned as the intersection between the A and B terminals. This airy space presented a bustling atmosphere for travelers but offered little in the way of modern aesthetics and lacked a true centerpiece to tie the room together. Knowing they needed to introduce a jolt of energy into their highest-profile space, the Spokane Airport Board turned to LED.
The Rotunda is a 37,000 square foot domed room that links Terminal A and Terminal B in the airport. Built in the 1960’s when the airport first opened and imbued with the aesthetic of that time, the space is supported by 24 exposed concrete beams that rise from the edge of the room to meet in its center, naturally guiding the eyes of travelers to that (previously empty) location. While the “Welcome Wall” was a specific area the Board wanted rejuvenated, so too was this vacant space at the center of the room, a high-pressure spot given the attention the Rotunda’s architecture directs to that location. With so much space to fill and so many eyes to engage, any feature suspended from this spot would need to either be truly enormous or be capable of outshining its size. The feature being lightweight enough to safely hang from the ceiling was an additional concern. A further challenge was the Board’s desire to complement the original architecture of the space rather than compromise it, a tough request requiring a careful understanding of how to introduce eye-catching dynamism without distracting from the surrounding style. Lastly, airports are perpetually peopled with passengers and personnel – this installation would need to take place amidst that bustle.
After consulting with local integrator Evco Sound and Electronics, the Spokane Airport Board swiftly recognized that large-format LED was the best material for their modernization effort due to its lightweight build and remarkable brightness levels. The project took further shape as the team realized the design and architectural challenges presented by the Rotunda would demand an LED manufacturer who could develop custom LED solutions that appeared to grow naturally out of the built environment, rather than something standard off-the-shelf. For this task, Nanolumens was the perfect provider. As Dan Rossborough, Director of the Nanolumens Special Projects Group, put it, “The airport has always tried to blend modern design elements with the original architecture, maintaining what makes this Rotunda special in the first place…So rather than slapping a flat panel rectangle on there in some haphazard way, we looked for an organic solution that allowed the design team to create something unique.” Together, the team designed, developed, and installed two inspired LED display solutions, one of which is a Welcome wall replete with a 20-foot curved wall buttressed by two LED columns on each side, the other of which is an 8-piece LED chandelier that hangs from the Rotunda’s ceiling.
When you enter the Rotunda your first reaction is ‘Wow,’ whereas it used to be ‘whatever,’” said Rossborough of the digitally rejuvenated environment. Today’s travelers passing through Spokane International Airport are treated to both an LED Welcome wall with “rock cubes” that look grown from the architecture itself and a veritable chandelier of LED that hangs from the Rotunda’s peak. Both features contain more than a dozen LED surfaces but despite their complexity, the team was able to surmount every obstacle. “The goal was to provide a high-quality video wall solution that would serve as an aesthetically pleasing form of advertisement to all inbound/outbound airport customers,” said Bobby Pruitt, Regional Operations Manager for Evco. “Nanolumens promptly assisted with on-site technical support, allowing the project team to overcome and deliver the final product.” Much like the shapes and styles of the LED displays themselves, the content shown by the features is inspired by the wilderness of the Inland Northwest, largely showcasing rushing streams amid misty woodland scenes.
This installation includes two large display features, each of which employs a 2.5mm pixel pitch. The Welcome Wall contains three separate display shapes, the largest of which is a 19.7-foot wide by 5.9-foot high curved Nixel series display, positioned in the center of the arrangement and bordered on either side by two three-sided LED “rock cubes.” Summing the width of the three sides, the displays on the outermost columns measure 7 feet, with one of the columns rising 5 feet in height and the other slightly taller at 5.4 feet. The taller interior columns also both measure 7 feet around but rise instead to 6.4 feet in height. The chandelier contains four curved Nixel Series panels, measuring 3.9 feet in width and 13.4 feet in height. The chandelier also contains four four-sided columns, each of which measures 9.7 feet around and 9 feet in height.