When American satellite broadcast television company DIRECTV made the decision to move its headquarters to El Segundo, California, USA, the company wanted to do something unique to honor the combination of its history, a shift into the modern business of content creation, and the special concentration of Southern California's industries of manufacturing, engineering, art, and Hollywood. The company hired Electroland LLC, a design and architecture firm that specializes in interactive public media art, to create a one-of-a-kind entrance installation.
Electroland Principal Cameron McNall, Partner Damon Seeley, and the team of designers were faced with the challenges of finding a material flexible enough for the curvature of the design, a tight budget, and a short timeline. The enormity of the project and its hurdles forced Electroland to think creatively and quickly about a solution that brought together light, sound, video, and an interactive element.
The team identified Bayer's Makrolon LD polycarbonate plastic manufactured by Burro Happold as the ideal material for the curved structure. They custom printed and fit the plastic together like a puzzle into the curved entryway. The special polycarbonate used in the installation was also specified for the diffusion of the iColor Flex MX nodes' light output, an often-met challenge when working with high-intensity lighting.
The team divided the structure into 600 panels where they installed 47,000 custom iColor Flex MX nodes. They individually addressed each LED node using custom software capable of tracking movement and displaying video on a three-dimensional surface.
They then mounted the panels together inside the massive structure. The end result was a 36 m (118 ft) long, 8 m (26 ft) tall curved structure that displays low-resolution video using light. The installation also incorporates ambient sound and an interactive component.
The curved archway was an elegant compromise between the client's requirement for commercial content and flexibility and Electroland's artistic approach. The DIRECTV headquarters lobby now delights visitors with an installation that reflects the company's focus on the future of content and user experience. "I'm very happy we got something that's very forward-looking using the technologies we implemented,” McNall said.