United Polaris Lounges: Taking Air Travel to Luxurious New Heights


Air travel can be hectic and tiresome. When you step into a United Polaris Lounge, however, you’re transported from a conventional airport to an ultra-chic lounge, five-star restaurant and luxury hotel. Stylish and highly functional spaces allow United Airlines’ premier international travelers to take care of last-minute business, savor chef-prepared meals and enjoy quality rest before their next adventure.

In addition to satisfying a passenger’s every need, each United Polaris Lounge boasts sleek and sophisticated architectural and design elements. Since United Airlines launched the Polaris brand in 2016, Luminii has been a part of the journey every step of the way.

“We use lighting to make memorable moments,” said Sheyla Conforte, principal and executive director of interior design at SCB, an architecture, interior design and planning firm with offices in Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle. “For example, at O’Hare, the lounge’s reception area has a sculpture of lighting commissioned by award-winning artist Wolfgang Buttress set into the ceiling. The fixture signals that guests are entering a unique, upgraded space.”

From the moment passengers set foot in one of seven unique lounges spanning United’s U.S.-based international hubs, the Polaris experience delivers unmatched luxury and a new on-board experience 30,000 feet in the air—all driven by exclusivity and personalization.

“It’s very exciting to be a part of a multi-year project for a strong global brand,” said Ryan Raica-Scallan, Director of Sales for Luminii. “United and the project partners’ confidence in Luminii is a testament to the versatility and quality of our product line. We are able to deliver unmatched color, consistency, and quality in LED lighting with highly adaptable applications that create unique, sophisticated and comfortable spaces.”

In addition to Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Polaris Lounges offer premier international travelers unique, full-service hospitality experiences at United’s Dulles, Houston, LaGuardia, Los Angeles, Newark and San Francisco terminals.

“United Polaris is serene, sophisticated and exclusive in both concept and design,” Conforte said. “The project’s main design objectives were to celebrate the excitement and wonder of travel. With each lounge, we look to lighting to create a sense of arrival, transition and intimacy.”

That was the inspiration Gwen Grossman Lighting Design used to “paint the Polaris Lounge spaces with light” in a way that differentiated levels of activity. The lighting scheme complements the journey travelers are about to make.

“We wanted to convey activity through lighting,” said Gwen Grossman, principal of Gwen Grossman Lighting Design. “The bar area is brighter and demonstrates that it’s a hub for people to congregate. Conversely, lighting in the corridor spaces is dimmed and has features that emulate overnight lighting on an aircraft.”

“The goal was to create a respite from the craziness, a place where travelers step out of the shuffle of a busy airport and into a very high-end hospitality space,” Grossman said. “We didn’t just light the space to look good; we also wanted the people in the space to look and feel good. That’s where Luminii becomes such an important part of the equation. Their product line has consistent, high-quality color that allows us to sculpt spaces with light.”

Constructing Polaris Lounges in the 24/7 operating environment of some of the busiest airports in the United States comes with challenges. SBC’s architects are experienced in navigating those challenges and rely on Luminii’s product versatility and customer service to overcome them.

“Luminii’s products are extremely versatile and create custom-like applications that can be adapted on site,” Raica-Scallan said. “The functionality of our product line is paired with unmatched customer service. We leverage decades of experience in pre-construction planning, troubleshooting and installation for customers in every project we work on.”

The next time you find yourself in a Polaris lounge, take a moment to take in the light as it builds a relaxing reprieve from a bustling airport.

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Briilliant Minds: Gwen Grossman

Gwen Grossman breaks barriers—and sets new standards—on a daily basis. While running her firm, Gwen Grossman Lighting Design, she empowers women and strengthens their voices in the male-dominated lighting design and architecture sectors. She also illuminates spaces with utmost precision and care to enhance every moment of the customer experience.