La Guardia Airport
Published October 25, 2021
Plantscape Commercial Silk was contacted by HOK architecture to collaborate on an interior landscape for Terminal B in LaGuardia Airport, located in New York. The initial plan developed by HOK called for live plants and trees, but the climate-controlled interior of the space was not a feasible host for the size and scope of trees initially requested.
Part of our communication involves addressing obstacles and infeasible solutions, and that can sometimes be a difficult conversation. While the client was initially attached to the idea of live plant solutions, we were able to advise them toward high-quality artificial plants that upheld their standards for realism, while avoiding all of the costs and risks of live greenery.
The goal of the project was to create a radically different environment for the airport terminal where people felt physically comfortable and emotionally nourished. Airports can be unpredictable spaces, with delays and layovers that can cause a great deal of stress. By creating a transportive experience that feels more like being in a forest than in a waiting area, we were able to provide users a reprieve from the stark visual and tonal standards of an airport.
We faced two major challenges in the course of the Terminal B project. The first was responding to the desire for live plants, which was solved by extensive sampling of artificial products - foliage, tree trunks, and sculpted elements. While replica was not their ideal solution from the outset, the quality of materials and level of detail of our product was convincing enough to prove they would not be making aesthetic sacrifices by choosing artificial.
A second challenge we had to overcome was working around stringent fire safety codes typical of high-security facilities. Our ThermaLeaf® line of products was suited to even the most demanding requirements, affording the client an ample choice of plants and foliage type to choose from.
The Biophilic Principal of Refuge refers to the ability for the user to find visual privacy from others, as well as a way to disconnect or escape the greater space around them. Areas with benches and other seating can make use of Ferns, Bushes and Hedges to create visual privacy, and help create a Refuge space where your mind and body can be convinced of solitude and natural connection.
These areas were very important to the project, as the goal of the space was to help provide rest, and de-stress the users in the space that are awaiting their flight. Several small pockets of greenery with available seating created ample opportunities for Refuge.
DYNAMIC AND DIFFUSE LIGHT
Airport terminals are often outfitted with large glass walls that allow users to see the runway outside, providing a powerful sense of scale and appreciation for the sky and horizon. These typically floor-to-ceiling windows also present a unique degree of interaction with sunlight, and can make for dramatic lightshows at sunrise and sunset.
The project was able to benefit from this abundant natural light, using varied strata within tree canopies, we were able to replicate the effect of sunlight projecting through foliage, further enhancing the transportive feeling of being in a park or forest while within the terminal.
NON-RHYTHMIC SENSORY STIMULI
Areas like Airport Terminals can be difficult to navigate due to their repeating nature. One area can often look identical to another, with the only differentiating feature being the adjacent shops and restaurants. This is a case where Non-Rythmic Sensory Stimuli has great impact, by creating non-repeating, organic, asymmetrical planting areas, the terminal was given a new visual texture. Areas within the terminal are now visually distinct and memorable without breaking aesthetic character, which makes for a more easily navigable space.
The result of the project was a rich, relaxing biophilic space in a place where it's entirely unexpected. We achieved the goal of creating a park-like experience within the terminal, delivering multiple trees over 30' tall without causing interruption to business or travelers.