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Pic: GPI Design


chosen was Vavona Burl, originating from a Redwood tree in the Pacific Northwestern United States, the burl patterning formed, fittingly, in the cancerous portions of the tree.


GPI Design provided the Vavona Burl by developing the proprietary capabilities to fabricate the wood’s veneer in a method that involves thinning the veneer to a proper translucency, then laminating it between glass panels. This, according to Thomas Lawrence, founder and principal of GPI Design, “transformed the wood into an extremely thin plane for effective backlighting, yet protects the surface within layers of glass. The technology breakthrough has opened up the possibilities for designing with translucent wood materials.” The glass-laminated wood product is now branded as GPI Design’s Flicche Translucent Natural Wood Panels.


Designed as part of the full solution, GPI implemented their Flat-Lite LED Panels to bring a continuous plane of light to the back of the translucent wood. The edge lit LED technology was developed in the same size


as the wood panels, allowing a controllable zone of light individually behind each panel. The placement of the LED panel in relationship to the surface and structural hardware was detailed closely to avoid the casting of shadows. “The design and installation at NCI is a great example of the benefits of LED beyond the lamp life and efficiency. The thinness of the LED panel allows us to integrate the lighting better within a small detail. The result is a more innovative approach to accent the material,” said Maureen Moran, principal of MCLA Architectural Lighting Design. GPI developed a structural system with consideration to weight loads, fastening hardware, organic movement and patterning of the wood panels and flexibility and aesthetics of the products. Defined structural elements acted as the constant force, striking clean joint lines between panels and framing corners with the standoff hardware in a repetitive geometry, while the structure prevented shadow lines and cold spots from interrupting the space between LED and wood panels.


Due to the natural variation of the Vavona Burl in GPI’s Flicche Translucent Natural Wood Panels, flexibility in the brightness of the Flat-Lite LED Panels was paramount. The GPI Design team engineered a system of Infuse Dimming Controls that controlled the lighting levels behind each wood panel in strategic groupings. Lighting levels were tuned to a fine degree, more light was brought to the denser wood panels and the lighter wood panels were dimmed. Eight preset lighting scenes were programmed in the main passageway, offering the ability to change lighting levels throughout the day. The lighting can be accessed via a custom smartphone application. This tuning process balanced the walls into a homogeneous aesthetic while still paying homage to the natural variations in material. By honing HOK’s thoughtful design intent through an iterative development process, backlit wood materials breathe a sense of nature and life for visitors and employees navigating the National Cancer Institute. www.gpidesign.com


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