A Memorable Gateway

With glass curtains on three sides and a $6 million collection of public art, the new $1 billion main terminal at Sacramento International Airport aims to create a memorable gateway to California's capital region, besides positioning the airport for future growth.

In keeping with that goal, iLight Plexineon White 2X 4500 fixtures were chosen to provide both energy-efficient illumination and a design element. Installed on the undersides of escalators that span three levels and run overhead, the LED fixtures also frame the terminal's signature feature: a suspended, 56-foot-long aluminum sculpture of a red hare diving into a suitcase.

The Design Challenge

Architectural design inspiration for the 300,000-square-foot terminal came from Sacramento’s "city of trees" moniker. Seeking to recreate the interplay of light that occurs under a canopy of trees, architects Corgan Associates, Inc. and Fentress Architects turned to Arup to execute electric and daylighting design.

The massive and centrally located terminal escalators presented a challenge. Calling them a feature in their own right, Jake Wayne, Senior Consultant for Arup, says the space beneath the escalators begged for light — especially given the abundance of natural light flowing throughout the rest of the terminal.

As a result, a low-profile cove was planned for the undersides of the escalators. What was needed was a product that could fit behind the cove, provide warm and consistent illumination, and remain in keeping with the building's sustainability priority.

At the time, Jason Edling was at Arup. He had just specified Plexineon for the interior of the Sahra Spa and Hammam inside the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and his experience on that project assured him that Plexineon was the right product to use beneath the airport escalators.

"I knew the fixtures were well suited for illuminating small spaces uniformly," says Edling, now Principal at Niteo Lighting, LLC. "We’d had a successful experience with the product previously in a similar configuration."

The Plexineon Advantage

Plexineon White was chosen for its timeless quality, and Edling and Wayne say the outcome is just as Arup had hoped.

"We're quite pleased with the project," Edling says, adding that he’s now considering Plexineon for another project he has in the works.

"The detailing was done perfectly," he adds. "You don't actually see the light source, yet the light is able to bleed out. The light provides visual relief as you come out from under the escalators, reducing contrast."

Wayne adds, "The Plexineon lightens the space and creates a portal for viewing the iconic artwork beyond."

The Sacramento International Airport project has since received an IES Award of Excellence as well as LEED Silver certification.


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