Artichoke-inspired ceilings at heart of shopping mall expansion

Artichoke-inspired ceilings at heart of shopping mall expansion

Over 100 ceiling clouds add visual excitement to lengthy portals connecting existing mall to new addition

Portal ceilings feature a series of 22.5-degree clouds running down the centre of the passageway, flanked on both sides by a series of 75-degree clouds, evoking the look of petals of an artichoke.
Photo courtesy Don Cochran

An acoustical ceiling plan inspired by an artichoke?

That’s exactly what the design team at Holmes King Kallquist & Associates Architects (HKK) in Syracuse, New York created to brighten and enliven the lengthy portals connecting the existing Destiny USA mall to its new expansion.

Located in Syracuse, Destiny USA is a 222,970-m2 (2.4 million-sf) shopping complex that is the largest enclosed shopping centre in New York and the sixth largest in the United States. It is projected to become the second most visited shopping centre in the country, second only to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Formerly known as the Carousel Center, the mall completed a 78,970-m2 (850,000-sf) expansion that combines luxury outlets, main street retail, and specialty stores with fine dining and entertainment venues.

Portals connect old and new
The ‘portals’ are four long corridors that range in length from 37.5 to 51 m (123 to 168 ft) and connect the original 1990s mall to the new expansion. To provide visual excitement in these passageways, the design team wanted to create an eye-catching treatment in the ceiling that would also help tie the two areas together, explains Leif Kallquist, HKK principal and design architect.

“The two areas of the mall have a completely different esthetic. The expansion features an industrial look with bare steel columns and concrete floors, while the existing mall has a highly polished marble floor with wrapped classical columns and painted finishes typical of shopping malls of that era,” he says. “From a design point of view, we sought to visually connect the two with materials that would transition from one to the other and experientially shorten the distance of travel from the existing mall to the expansion.”

“The portal portion of the project was unusual from both a design and lighting integration aspect,” continues HKK interior designer Terrie King. “Connecting the two extremely different spaces and drawing people into the expansion portion of the mall through the lengthy corridor spaces was the challenge.”

Over 100 ceiling clouds installed
The design team met the challenge with the installation of over 100 Serpentina Waves curved metal ceiling clouds from Armstrong Ceiling Solutions.

The Serpentina Waves ceiling system consists of a standard metal suspension system with a specially designed sleeve that fits over the grid. Aluminum infill panels then slide into the sleeve, eliminating the visual of main runners and cross-tees, and creating a thin 6.4-mm (¼-in.) black reveal between panels to provide a more monolithic look to the cloud. The three-dimensional clouds also feature an installation system that uses fewer hanger wires and recesses them to impart more of a ‘floating’ look to the ceiling.

Serpentina Waves panels are 0.6 m (2 ft) wide and offered in 1.2 to 3.7 m (4 to 12 ft) lengths, 13 colours, and 10 curved options ranging from 7.5- to 90-degree arcs. At Destiny USA, the ceilings in the wider portals feature a series of 22.5-degree clouds running down the centre of the passageway, flanked on both sides by a series of 75-degree clouds, evoking the look of the petals of an artichoke.

Over 100 Serpentina Waves curved metal ceiling clouds from Armstrong Ceiling Solutions provide visual excitement in the portals connecting the existing mall to a new addition.
Photo courtesy Armstrong Ceiling Solutions

Artichoke design breaks down space
Architect Kallquist explains he began considering an artichoke-type ceiling plan when he thought it could be used effectively to break down the height and expanse of the space. He also notes the team worked with the Armstrong You Inspire Solutions Center to execute the ceiling’s design concept. The You Inspire Solutions Center is a consultative service comprising architects and engineers whose sole mission is to work with designers in the implementation of signature ceilings.

“We had used Armstrong products before,” interior designer King adds, “but this was our first project of this size with these particular metal ceiling panels. As a result, we ordered large samples to have an opportunity to play with the lighting on different sizes of perforations and colours to show the maximum amount of reflection.”

The panels at Destiny USA are either Champagne or Wolf in colour. However, waves of light-emitting diode (LED) lights that change colour via computer-programmed sequences varying in timing illuminate the clouds along the perimeter, resulting in an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colour in the ceiling that includes shades of blue, red, green, purple, and orange.

According to King, the use of LED lights came in concert with the design and material options.

“It was an idea to brighten and enliven the space while shoppers traversed from one area to the other,” she states. “We hoped to draw them into the portals and then entertain them along the way with lighting and kiosk shopping opportunities.”

Other portals feature undulating clouds
The remaining portals also feature a series of ceiling clouds—only in an undulating design that includes a variety of different cloud widths, lengths, and arcs.

“The design rational in these portals is the same as the other portals,” Kallquist states, “to entice shoppers to enter and proceed through an enlivened, interesting space that connects the two retail spaces.”

In this case, however, the space was too narrow to accommodate the same artichoke treatment as the wider portals.

“As a result,” he says, “we decided to use the same material but in a different way and also illuminate them with colour-changing LED lights for the same reason as the other portals—to draw people into and through the space and entertain them while they make their way through it.”

All the clouds in all the portals are perforated and, depending on their location, backed with an acoustical fleece to provide sound control.

“Acoustics was a strong consideration, especially with all the hard surfaces at the mall,” King notes. “While the design of the ceiling panel layout helps with acoustics, we added the acoustic backing to the panels to provide even more sound control.”

Looking back on the project, Kallquist notes the owners are extremely pleased with the portals.

“And, the portals continue to draw shoppers to them,” he says, “if for no other reason than they are such a fun space to see and enjoy.”

For more information on Armstrong Serpentina curved metal clouds, visit  


All information listed in this section was submitted by Armstrong Ceiling Solutions.
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