Bringing the Big Sky Inside

For the thousands who arrive daily at Winnipeg James A. Armstrong Richardson International Airport in Manitoba, Canada, an unforgettable sight awaits in an unexpected place.

In the baggage claim area, eyes are immediately drawn to the ceiling, where fifty-five circular skylights in random sizes bathe the space in light and exude a sense of calm in what is typically a high-stress zone.

What’s more, iLight Plexineon Blue Series fixtures orbit each skylight, suggesting a starlit night on the open prairie while also providing striking contrast against the predominately white air terminal building.

Since opening in October 2011, the new passenger-friendly, state-of-the art facility has gained much acclaim. Besides being honored with a Guth Award for Interior Lighting, it has been credited with making the airport one of the world’s most iconic.

The Design Challenge

Behind the terminal’s design is renowned architect César Pelli of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, who designed Malaysia’s Petronas Towers and Hong Kong’s International Financial Centre.

Inspired by Winnipeg’s vast prairie horizon and sky, Pelli conceived the three-story, north-facing structure and gave it numerous sources of natural light—glass walls, an atrium, clerestory windows, and skylights.

Carrying Pelli’s vision through to the baggage area, the lighting design team at Auerbach Glasow French searched for an unobtrusive way to make the ceiling vibrant even after sunset. “There was a good deal of discussion regarding the light source,” says Larry French, principal at Auerbach Glasow French. “We wanted to ensure the round skylight apertures didn’t become dark holes at night.”

The Plexineon Advantage iLight_Winnipeg2

Having specified Plexineon on previous projects, French chose the fixtures knowing the small profile and ability to bend to shape in the field were proven advantages. The range of color options was also a plus, with the design team choosing Plexineon Blue for its calming effect and emotional relationship to the sky. An added hope was that the color would reflect against the stainless steel baggage carousels, adding an extra accent.

Indeed, Plexineon Blue does create a subtle glow off the carousels, as well as a captivating constellation above. The final result is so stunning that today the fixtures are on 24/7.

“Due to how lovely it looks,” says French, “the Plexineon — which was only intended to be on at night — is now on whenever the building is operating.”

To lean more about iLight LED products, visit



2015 Winter/Spring Buyer's Guide


Is your shop planning to get more involved with digital signage?