Curved Ceiling Commands Attention

Project: Southwest Airlines Training and Operational Support Building

Location: Dallas, Texas

The new Network Operations Control centre is the heartbeat of Southwest Airlines’ growing air operations: no plane can fly and no crew or maintenance can be scheduled without directives from command centre operatives. According to Scott Cherry, who serves as a project manager for Southwest Airlines, several hundred people are working in the centre at any given time, each talking to other airlines and agencies as they control flight and ground crew activity. “It’s a very live room, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he explains.

To ensure a design that would be able to support all this activity and take their high-tech operations into the future, the airline tapped the full-service architecture, planning and interior design firm BOKA Powell to create a command centre that’s not only beautiful and structurally sound, but also organizes employees for more efficient, streamlined work.

As ceilings often provide the best means for controlling acoustics within a room, it was natural for BOKA Powell to use the centre’s ceiling as an aesthetic and acoustic element. They installed 16,000 square feet of CertainTeed’s Gyptone® BIG Curve — the industry’s only perforated acoustical gypsum panel that can achieve highly curved ceilings without the cost and time associated with custom fabrication. The particular style of the Gyptone BIG Curve selected provides an NRC of 0.70, offering remarkable sound absorption. Its intriguing shape is expressive of the curvature of airplane wings, expertly engineered for precision during flight.

Gyptone BIG Curve’s high light reflectance and ability to easily integrate with lighting elements creates seamless interplay between the ceiling and the centre’s ambient blue lighting, which was installed to keep employees alert. By enabling this level of acoustical and lighting control, the dynamic ceiling blends form with function to maximize the performance and well-being of building occupants.

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