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PHX Sky Train

Date:2014-04-15 0comments Click:4925

Text by & Picture courtesy of Pauline Day


PHX Sky Train™, a new airport transit system at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, links the light rail to the first of four airport terminals. HOK, the architects of the project, faced the challenge of creating a baffle ceiling that would deliver precision installation, robust performance, full accessibility and a client-specific aesthetic. Collaborations with the architect, the subcontractor T-P Acoustics and Hunter Douglas led to a successful downstream implementation and installation of the new ceilings in what has become the city’s most recent landmark.

The design team from HOK was called to join the project 18 months prior to construction. They had to create “a 100 percent point accessible, yet robust and precise baffle ceiling” – but one did not exist in the market place. With concurrent development activities, T-P Acoustics and HDAP created a series of 12 mockups. As the mockups grew more sophisticated, they gathered input from the architect, general contractor, electricians, and HVAC, signage and security trades.The key element with the baffle ceiling system became the subcontractor’s idea and prototyping, which led Hunter Douglas to develop a sliding attachment device compatible with a standard 24mm T-grid. A client-specific design of extruded aluminum baffle profiles was attached that could span 60cm and slide open to create 20x60cm point access openings - without removing or lowering a single baffle. The large scale, 3,700 square meter baffle ceiling system became a main feature of the new landmark station. The baffle application incorporated a floating design in all directions, along with changes in baffle direction to accommodate transitions in pedestrian flow and space function. A key transition took place at the juncture of a 167-meter walkway from the light rail station to the airport transit station.

While robust, given its extruded aluminum baffles, the ceiling’s precision element, which reflects the clean, precise nature of an automatic train operation, was equally important. This required manufacturing and field cutting of the baffles to maintain a perfect alignment at floating perimeters (no trim elements), as well as cuts around large columns and, most importantly, the key 13mm reveal between baffles as no splice was used. The large-scale ceiling design highlighted many long runs of this reveal.All of these design criteria had to be achieved at ceiling height levels from 3 to 12 meters with constant interaction between electrical, HVAC, signage, security and other trades, which repeatedly were able to utilize the large-opening point access system to access the plenum.

Other ceiling applications also required development and implementation, including a pedestrian ground-level exterior-to-interior transition that featured an inviting airplane wing’s 4,100-square-meter configuration. A 30cm wide linear plank ceiling product was chosen by the architect to allow for long panels up 580cm. The second floor train platform called for 1,300 square meters of curved torsion-spring type ceiling system to maintain the station’s iconic tubular shape.The author comes from Hunter Douglas Contract


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