NELSON Worldwide recently completed its first airport hangar project in San Luis Obispo, California for ACI Jet - an FBO (fixed-base operator) that provides aeronautical services including an executive passenger terminal, private jet charters, fueling, maintenance, and hangaring of its fleet of private aircraft. To satisfy the needs of its evolving, high-end clientele, ACI Jet engaged NELSON Worldwide to design a new 28,300-square-foot guest terminal facility and adjacent 29,200-square-foot private jet hangar.
Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco in the heart of California's central coast wine country, the airport attracts individuals with west coast business or vacation travel that live in or near the Golden State. ACI Jet brought on NELSON to lead the design and truly capture the surrounding California central coast landscape, the nuances of aviation, and the essence of private jet travel. NELSON wanted to create a stress-free environment for passengers, where they are well cared for by the staff.
The client experience is curated from the time their driver delivers guests to the entry or they return from their flight. A 38-foot-high butterfly roof with an exposed wooden ceiling and natural material palette provides a warm welcome. Exposed steel, stone, and wood were used for the main entrance to show strength and to provide a solid and welcoming introduction to the region. At night the wood structure is illuminated from the exterior through the length of the interior, providing a comforting beacon for travelers.
Guests are introduced to the new ACI Jet experience through expansive floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a view inside. Throughout the space, lighting is cleverly hidden within the architecture, so the lighting design and interior aesthetics mirror the seamless and thoughtful guest experience. Upon entry, they are welcomed by a wine and refreshment bar that features the best of what the region has to offer. Next to the wine bar is a light-filled passenger lounge where guests can relax and unwind. Passengers entering the building from the tarmac are welcomed by a reception area highlighted by a curved wood feature wall and ceiling. Here the ACI Jet logo is self-illuminated, surrounded by subtle cove lighting that further highlights the wood accents. The building reaches its peak as the butterfly roof height increases to 45-feet to maximize the views of the sky and surrounding hills beyond the tarmac.
Situated next to the reception area is a curved steel and wood feature stair that leads to the second floor with views of the picturesque hills, the CEO's office with balcony views to the tarmac and the boardroom. A focal point of the second floor is the dispatch room. Enclosed in glass, customers can get a glimpse of ACI employees tracking and scheduling flights. In addition to the dispatch room, private customer office areas are housed on this level.
Unbeknownst to airport visitors is the back-of-house area equipped with offices, pilot lounges, a catering kitchen, an employee break room, and service offices. Back-of-house areas have views into the existing hangar used for maintenance and service. NELSON strategically separated the front-of-house from the back-of-house so passengers can have a relaxing and soothing experience, unlike typical airport travel.
ACI Jet's new 29,200-square-foot metal showroom hangar featuring a steel structure with white floors and metal walls is the perfect housing to showcase the elegance of private jets. The exterior corner glass and floor-to-ceiling glass windows between the new guest terminal building and new hangar provide impressive views of the jets as guests approach the building, as they enter, and from the second-floor bridge. The lighting design showcases the planes on display like a high-end retail showroom. On the exterior above the glass curtain wall is the illuminated ACI Jet logo in large, light gray and blue lettering attached to the hangar metal siding.
The use of natural wood finishes, exposed steel and neutral colors inside and out creates a space that seamlessly transitions travelers to this stunning region of the world. Whether leaving or returning, guests will feel the same level of comfort and sense of arrival while experiencing the building and hospitality of San Luis Obispo's new FBO.
Photography: Courtesy of Reed Visuals