July 29, 2015

Frequent Fliers: LAX’s Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse by Slade Architecture

Making flying fun again is the mission of Hayes and James Slade. If you’re an elite traveler jet-setting on Virgin Atlantic Airways, that is. New York’s John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty International Airports are where Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses by Slade Architecture’s married principals landed first. The latest arrival welcomes passengers at Los Angeles World Airports, aka LAX.

“Virgin sought unique lounges, particular to each city, but with common elements,” James Slade explains. He’s lounging poolside in L.A. with his wife on speakerphone—embroiled in New York traffic, horns and sirens blaring. “Touch points” in all three lounges, she says, include furniture that channels the modernism of Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, and Arne Jacobsen. Recurring, too, are the fine leather and wool typical of the Slades’ top-tier hospitality projects. For specific tie-ins to the City of Angels, the Slades riffed on sun, surf, skateboards, and, of course, cinema.

The main move is a rippling wall of white solid-surfacing, punctuated by curving copper forms. It starts in the reception area, then turns a corner to sweep diagonally through the space, a 4,000-square-foot L. This trajectory cuts off small sections where the restrooms, a shower, and the kitchen could be concealed. With those functions out of the way, the remaining area, a roughly triangular shape, became an expanse encompassing the lounge, the bar, and the dining area, all given movie names.

Easy Rider, a grouping in the lounge, combines long, low-slung sofas with curvy love seats. In the bar, called Eat Drink Man Woman, a swoopy counter runs right along the windows, which frame the Hollywood sign in the distance. Slightly more private, tucked into the apex of the triangle, is The Conversation, a dining area where a slatted ceiling improves acoustics for diners conversing on banquettes upholstered a Pacific blue.

A beachy video projection represents the happening Left Coast art scene. Ditto for a tattoo-esque mural in black ink. Its creator brought his own pen in his carry-on when he landed at LAX.

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