There is much that sets the Yas Marina Hotel apart from your run-of-the-mill international five-star lodging, but nothing so palpably as the Formula One (F1) racetrack that bisects the luxury destination's two towers. Asymptote Architecture and Arup Lighting were charged with delivering a building that would capture the excitement of the high-octane automobiles and satisfy the rigorous daylighting requirements of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates' desert environment. They responded by covering the 499-room resort with a steel gridshell structure that supports 5,000 fritted glass panels, each lit with a custom-designed, dynamic, programmable color-changing LED fixture.

The sleek, curvilinear form of the gridshell makes a fitting backdrop for the race. It also shades the towers, creating a stack effect that draws hot air away from the building. Detailed solar analyses aided in designing the complex glazing, which utilizes low-iron glass with a low-E coating and custom microfilter frit pattern.

While the glass aides the even distribution of light across the grid-shell, the design of the RGBW LED fixtures was also important. Each luminaire spotlights a single panel, while the electronics are housed in a globe on the underside of the gridshell frame. The entire assembly is tied together by a central control system that sends information to, and receives information from, the LEDs. Employing video-pixel mapping technology, the designers transformed the gridshell into a media façade. The two-way control system also helps to keep the LED fixtures from overheating in the sweltering atmosphere: When one luminaire signals a heat alarm, the entire façade dims in order to stay operational.

The dynamism of the gridshell's lighting scheme carries through to the landscape. Long-life ceramic metal halide lamps and 4000K LED neon replacement fixtures accentuate the hotel's swooping forms, creating a tight, swerving entry sequence that gives guests the feeling that they're speeding down the F1 raceway.

Jury Comments: It's an interesting integration of technology and aesthetics to solve multiple lighting requirements. â€˘ The gridshell structure is a fresh take on the idea of the media screen.