Aerial Folly

July 21, 2004
Winner: Hangar One
Hangar One, a 129,000-square-foot private airport in Scottsdale, Ariz., combines an airplane aesthetic with advanced integrated technology to create what some wags describe as a “spa for jets.” Designed to house up to 15 aircraft, the Modernist-style facility includes two hangars and an attached multipurpose terminal building with below-grade parking, premium office and entertainment space, and a vintage auto showroom.Architects Swaback Partners, interior designer Adam Tihany, and the residential systems integration firm of Automation iQ worked together to meld the facility’s architectural design with multiple, low-voltage systems that allow staff, members, and guests to access the extensive electronic amenities easily and quickly. “This facility is designed in the performance standards of the aircraft itself,” noted Vern Swaback, owner of Swaback Partners.“If we were to ever design planes the way we design buildings, we’d never get them off the ground. This is a building that, by the nature of its performance and its desire to communicate a 21st-century sense of aircraft and aerodynamics, has been designed with that in mind.”The interior entryway is dominated by a striking 108-ft.-long, 15,000-lb. “paper” airplane made of aluminum. In the lobby, a 50-inch plasma display serves as a touchscreen for members and guests to obtain news and weather information, facility map and amenities, and a selection of audio/video sources and levels, or just to watch TV.Thin, exposed stairs wind upward, cantilevered from a concrete elevator wall. Battered steel columns in the guest lounge create an elliptical room. Second-level tilt-up exterior wall panels are supported by cantilevered steel mezzanine floor beams. A steel canopy also cantilevers off these concrete panels.In the lounge, a “bullet-hole” concrete wall has 17 tapered penetrations, each with a different angle. Viewing balconies on the runway side of the hangars offer views of the surrounding mountains. Interior spaces are furnished with custom fixtures, upholstered ceilings, exotic stone and terrazzo floorings, mahogany, ebony and other rare woods, and silk and wool carpeting.“The inside and the outside materials are the same,” notes Swaback. “Both in character and in structure, all materials are exposed. It’s fundamentally metal, concrete, and glass, and those qualities are exposed inside and out. At no point does some notion of fashion overtake that notion of structural integrity in a very architectural way. Hangar One does more with less.”This is true of the facility’s technology interface as well. “The owner desired a simple-to-use user interface, one even more intuitive than those used in a residential setting,” explains J. Rand Arnold, president and founder of Automation iQ, based in Austin, Tex. He says the client wanted to integrate multiple subsystems and empower the staff and members to easily interface with the facility as if through a single system. “The interface requires zero learning curve, because many guests are first-time or infrequent users.”“We removed the complexity and frustration of having to learn lots of different control systems, lots of different remote controls,” adds Adam Glick, AiQ’s business development manager. The project incorporates a standards-based software architecture that ties the multiple electronic subsystems together into a single, easy-to-use graphical user interface. The touchpanel graphics appear as a Macromedia Flash layer that operates on top of the application’s core logic (AiQ|Fusion) layer.The facility subsystems include access control, A/V, CCTV, environmental, lighting (from three independent lighting subsystems), and security. There are two independent networks, one for automation and one for business/facility use that interfaces with the facility building management system. A data server tracks and transmits device status data to and from each of the subsystems, as well as (to and from) the Fusion core server software.An 802.11 wireless LAN system and off-the-shelf Web pads provide roaming touchpanels for the members and personnel. The facility features T1 Internet access and three different physical interface platforms: five in-wall Windows XP touchpanels, four wireless Windows CE.NET touchpanels, and two freestanding thin-client touchpanel terminals. Audio and video at Hangar One operates via independent zone control, with a custom MP3 music management and distribution system, custom DVD management and distribution system, HDTV channel presets, and music playlists. In addition, there are one-touch room presets for common functions like “Room On,” “Watch TV,” and “Listen to Music.” “The wow factor for that project is exemplified by a 50-inch plasma display in the entryway,” exclaims Glick. “We have a touch-sensitive overlay that allows for touch interactivity and, because we use a PC-based system, we can enable our GUI (graphical user interface) to be displayed on any type of television or computer or any off-the-shelf network-compatible display device. And that basically allows the person to walk up, touch the screen, and start controlling their environment immediately.” The screen offers an interactive facility map; on-screen controls for satellite television, satellite music, and the MP3 jukebox and volume; a button to launch a 3-D fish bowl screensaver; and a button to switch video to another computer that displays real-time flight tracking information.Hangar One’s conference room includes a wall-mounted 60-inch plasma screen with high-definition satellite TV, MP3 Jukebox, local DVD and VHS players, and one-button automated A/V switching for videoconferencing, plus VGA, component video, and S-video wallplate inputs. A one-touch “Presentation Mode” button dims the lights and sets up A/V for presentations.Other well-equipped rooms include a training room, used for instructional/classroom purposes, which features a DILA-based projector and 80-inch screen, and a game room which includes A/V switching to Xbox or PlayStation 2. In the facility’s TV lounge, users can access Hangar One’s DVD library by title, director, genre, and rating.AiQ also designed the facility’s security and lighting systems. “The owner basically required, demanded, the highest levels of security,” says Glick. “We provided a safe zone for the travelers and for their aircraft. This project was launched right around 9/11, and the owner wanted to make sure his guests felt safe in an air travel environment.” In the hangars, where private aircraft are stored and serviced, an industrial lighting control system includes one-touch preset scenes that alternate daily use of different lighting loads to increase bulb life.“We spent a year on the design phase to make sure the technology was seamlessly integrated into the building,” declares Arnold. “A large coordination effort was undertaken to ensure the aesthetic impact of the electronics architecture was a positive one.” The touchpanel/plasma mounted on a tilt-up concrete wall, for example, demonstrates the audio/video portions of the project were considered as part of the initial building development. The wiring and junction box had to be in the right place at the right time with limited margin for error.“It’s not only a series of these individual systems, there’s a coordinative function that merges all these things,” Swaback observes. “In a building this complex, if you didn’t have that kind of coordination, you’d have walls just loaded with switches and dials and thermostats, and so the integration of all this is very important in this kind of high-tech building.“What you’re basically trying to do is make the high technology just disappear. It’s not a show-off building for the hardware of technology as much as it is integrating that technology so seamlessly that what you get is the performance of the building rather than the look of hardware.”“Automation iQ takes an holistic approach to providing the project electronics,” explains Arnold. “Our philosophy is that the true power of technology lies not in the individual pieces of equipment, but in the comprehensive integration of all the electronic products and services in a way that makes them easy to operate and thereby maximizes their usefulness to the occupants.”“The beauty of technology is not to make things more complicated,” notes Swaback. “We shouldn’t indulge in technological advances simply because it’s something that can be done. The technology that means most to human life and satisfaction is doing something that needs doing and something that matters” — such as energy efficiency, health benefits, and the “really gutsy exposure that we get when we use structural materials as the finish.”– Sara Malonearchitectswaback partnerssystems integrator
automation iqinterior architect
adam d. tihany international

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