From the Field: Backlit Wood Panel Mock-Up

For the National Cancer Institute project which we’ve been working on for months, GPI had the pleasure of presenting our mock-up of the very unique backlit wood system last week in Washington, D.C.

Wood Wall Panels with LED Backlighting - Rendering by HOK

Above: Initial project rendering by HOK

Over three years ago, Bill Hellmuth of HOK envisioned these unique backlit feature walls to bring light and texture to the long lobby hallways at the main entrance to the National Cancer Institute.  To translate the initial rendering of the backlit wood lobby feature walls to the photographs of the mock-up taken just last week, there have been countless hours of coordination between the surface, structure, and lighting elements. Our team has become quite captivated with the project.

GPI Design Mock Up Backlit Wood Wall Panels for Lobby Feature Wall Design

Above: Mock-up photograph by GPI Design

The surface was the driving element in the conceptual design of the wall.  GPI Design sourced an exotic Redwood burl (yielding large panels), sliced the wood to under half of a millimeter and laminated between glass.  The seamless LED backlighting environment keeps the wood surface as the primary visual focus, pouring through the translucent wood material in an unexpected pairing of the newly redefined material with backlighting illumination.

Next came the custom structural hardware components engineered to hold the wood and lighting systems safely and in a complementary relationship.  The majority of this testing and detailing has occurred internally, communicating with the project team in D.C. via shop drawings and conference calls, so there was much anticipation built up over the unveiling of these illuminated wood panels.

LED Illuminated Wood Panels Mock Up Installation Progress

Above: Mock-up installation progress

The GPI Design crew spent a full day assembling four of the wall panels to demonstrate our system (over 250 panels will be installed in the final project).  The mock-up was designed so that pins, joints, lighting controls, and accent lighting were all crafted to represent their appearance in the final installation. As the project team (owner, architect, lighting designer, general contractor) in D.C. arrived to the mock-up the next morning, sentiments of quiet contentment and satisfaction were in the air – a successful review with great dialogue generated.

LED Backlit Thin Translucent Wood Wall Panel System in Review Meeting

Above: Mock-up review meeting

It’s creative surfaces and great project teams like these that make us fall in love with our job all over again.

THANK YOU to: HOK, MCLA, James G. Davis Construction Corporation, TSI Architectural Metals, Cleveland Marble, and The JBG Companies

UPDATE AUGUST 2012: See the completed backlit wood walls here