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Cree and Apco contribute to an olympian effort in Beijing.

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Beijing’s National Aquatics Centre, the swimming and diving venue for the 2008 Summer Olympics, showcases myriad sign technologies. Approximately 440,000 Cree (Durham, NC) XLamp LEDs are embedded in the 80,000-sq.-ft. structure, known as the Water Cube, to create dramatic, aquatic effects. Combined with lighting controls provided by Grandar Landscape Lighting and Technology Group (the primary contractor for the lighting project), the LEDs will illuminate the structure’s bubble design (based on the Weaire-Phelan tetrakaidecahedron) from inside the translucent walls, which will allow the building to glow with color-changing LED light.

The structure’s design, conceived by a consortium of London-based, global design and business consulting firm Arup; architecture firm PTW (Sydney, Australia); the China State Construction and Engineering Corp. (Beijing); and the CSCEC Shenzen Design Institute, is based on the natural formation of soap bubbles. The individual bubbles, which are inflated ethyl tetra fluoroethylene-foil cushions, are covered with a plastic film and fit into the steel structure. The bubble-wrapped building behaves like an insulated greenhouse; it heats itself (and the pools).

Inside the venue, Atlanta-based APCO Graphics Inc. Components Div., working with sign designers at East Sign Design and Engineering Co. Ltd. (Dalian, China), created wayfinding that complimented the two-tone, soap-bubble pattern. The wayfinding comprised 22 stanchion signs, 114 wall-mounted room IDs and directories, and 417 custom acrylic plaques and letters for restroom and seating-section IDs, plus 1,648 sets of vinyl graphics for seating rows. Apco had furnished wayfinding for the 1996 Atlanta Games and for Beijing’s new National Centre for the Performing Arts.

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