LAX Gateway Marks 10 Years


Front row, from right, Ted Tokio Tanaka, principal architect of the LAX Gateway Enhancement Project, Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, Councilmember Tom LaBonge and Valeria Velasco, vice president of the LAWA board of commissioners, unveil a plaque on Monday commemorating the 10th anniversary of the glass pylons that have become a symbol of LAX. Back row, from right, Clifford Selbert, Selbert Perkins Design; Masako Tanaka and Michelle Isenberg, Isenberg and Associates. (GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo)



First installed in August 2000, the Gateway Pylons, the glowing pillars of light lining the entrance to Los Angeles International Airport, have become a fixture on local news and a symbol of L.A. Ted Tokio Tanaka, principal architect on the LAX Gateway Enhancement Project, was honored on Monday as the Los Angeles landmark celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Ted Tanaka

The LAX Gateway Pylons consist of 11 translucent, glass columns and are visible from 3,000 feet high. (Courtesy of Ted Tanaka)

“My goal was to create a sense of place and arrival to one of the busiest airports in this world. We wanted it so that when people arrive to LAX, you know you’re in sunny California,” said Tanaka.

A bronze plaque commemorating Tanaka’s efforts was placed in the LAX Flag Courtyard, a small garden located at the entry to LAX near the pylons. Tanaka credited a team of designers, artists and architects for creating the work. Others who worked on the project were also recognized including lighting artist Paul Tzanetopoulos, who designed the sequence of lights that illuminate the pylons, which range from 25 to 100 feet tall.

“We are so delighted that the Gateway Project has become a landmark of LAX and the city. This was a dream project for an architect,” said Tanaka. “I live 10 minutes from LAX and I have been a frequent LAX user since 1969. So I’ve often dreamed about beautification of LAX. When the opportunity came, I was ready to go to work.”

The pylons were built in 2000 as part of a $15-million component of the $115-million Gateway LAX Enhancement Project. The project’s improvements also included improved signage and lighting, an improved public address system for the terminals on the Lower/Arrivals Level, public art installations and practical and aesthetic improvements.

Valeria Velasco, vice president of the LAWA board of commissioners, noted that the glass pylons were the starting point for the airport’s modernization. In February, LAX broke ground a $1.545 billion the Bradley West Terminal project, due to be completed in 2013.

“Ten years go by really fast, I keep thinking these are still brand new,” said Velasco.


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