Focus: First impressions


Three award-winning office reception upgrades breathe new light into both classic and contemporary spaces


Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Perth, Australia
Lighting design: Electrolight

Part of an upgrade project for the Perth branch office of legal firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth, the lighting scheme is an exercise in integration, restraint and precision, winning an IALD Award of Merit. The reception features a system of custom aluminium bars, or blades, with three finishes, which radiate from behind the reception over the ceiling and down the opposite wall.

‘The goal was to express the morphing blade shapes to give an impression of volume and light beyond the room’s plain rectangular form,’ says Donn Salisbury, director of Electrolight, which has offices in Melbourne, Sydney and San Francisco. ‘This provides the luminous backdrop for subtle highlights in the reception desk and seating area furnishings, providing a welcoming and natural feel both day and night.’ Electrolight developed two distinct lighting systems: one for the vertical and one for the horizontal. Both needed to be tightly integrated. ‘It was crucial to position the luminaires precisely to limit shadowing and create the impression that the lines of light and the architectural details were one and the same,’ says Salisbury.

The award-winning lighting scheme is an exercise in integration, restraint and precision. Photo Credit: Pieter Naessens / Peter ClarkeThe award-winning lighting scheme is an exercise in integration, restraint and precision. Photo Credit: Pieter Naessens / Peter Clarke

A series of custom-designed linear strands of light illuminate the blades on either side. Side-emitting LEDs are sandwiched between two aluminium sheets, with a thin acrylic sheet applied as a diffuser. This creates a 4mm-wide line of light that provides luminance without harsh contrast or glare. A magnetic fixing system allowed the strands to be installed without fixings between the joinery ceiling panels. As the blades rise into the ceiling, they appear to transform to a luminous edge.

The illumination of the walls was designed to ensure both the reception and meeting rooms beyond can borrow from the effect. As most of the walls are clear glazing, the louvre effect needed to be precisely executed. The lighting is balanced using a Dali-based control system for day, night and function settings. ‘The resulting combination of colour, control and contrast creates a beautifully comfortable illumination,’ says Salisbury.

Credits
Architect: Bates Smart
Client and Project Manager: Urban Purveyor Group

599 Lexington Avenue, New York
Lighting design: Tillotson Design Associates


All Images: Chris Cooper Photographer

Unusually, the upgrade to the lobby of the 1986, modernist 47-storey building rested primarily on the lighting scheme. ‘The architect preferred original architecture to be respected, turning the project into a lighting intervention,’ says Tillotson.

There were limitations to achieving the daytime street presence which the client was after. The 15m-high lobby glass facade showed reflections both during daytime and evening, while the north face and the extended canopy limited the daylight penetration, exacerbating the daytime contrast problem. The rear wall of the lobby also had a large bas-relief artwork which was a challenge in that it needed controlled, high-level illumination to bring it to life.

A series of suspended vertical fins with carefully calculated luminosity provided a connection to the existing facade fins, and filled the lobby with ambient light. All Images: Chris Cooper Photographer.A series of suspended vertical fins with carefully calculated luminosity provided a connection to the existing facade fins, and filled the lobby with ambient light.

The original polished stone walls did not catch light with wall grazing and showed reflections with wall washing, ‘suggesting that a luminous ceiling was necessary to illuminate vertical surfaces,’ says Tillotson. ‘A backlit ceiling was neither feasible nor appropriate for the architecture.’

The solution was a series of suspended vertical fins with carefully calculated luminosity. This provided a connection to the existing facade fins, and filled the lobby with ambient light. Edge-lit with linear dimmable LED fixtures at the top, the clear glass fin has a translucent frit providing a diaphanous appearance. This allows visibility and creates a diffuse luminous effect at the ceiling.

A series of suspended vertical fins with carefully calculated luminosity provided a connection to the existing facade fins, and filled the lobby with ambient light. All Images: Chris Cooper Photographer.A series of suspended vertical fins with carefully calculated luminosity provided a connection to the existing facade fins, and filled the lobby with ambient light.

To punch down to the polished stone floor and add elements of sparkle, a grid of LED pendants is interspersed between the fins. A polished chrome finish ‘dematerialises’ them for a cleaner appearance. The same pendant concept, scaled down for the space, was also used in the lower height lift lobbies, enlivening the cavernous expanse, as well as helping with wayfinding.

LED framing projectors, with custom gobos created in-situ, accent the artwork. ‘Though providing high illumination, they also limit the spill on the surrounding wall and minimise shadows on overlapping three dimensional surfaces,’ says Tillotson.

A series of suspended vertical fins with carefully calculated luminosity provided a connection to the existing facade fins, and filled the lobby with ambient light. All Images: Chris Cooper Photographer.A series of suspended vertical fins with carefully calculated luminosity provided a connection to the existing facade fins, and filled the lobby with ambient light.

As lighting was the main tool in transforming the space, the process involved a high degree of collaboration with the architect. Although the basic lighting concepts were developed by Tillotson, the positioning, sizing and detailing of all lighting elements were determined with the architect. Multiple iterative CAD studies, renderings, mock-ups and a physical model were used to confirm the location of all lighting elements.

The scheme won an IALD Award of Excellence, one judge describing it as ‘a restrained but brilliant solution to a challenging collaborative problem’.

Credits
Architect FX Fowle
Owner Boston Properties

 

225 Park Avenue South, New York
Lighting design: Anita Jorgensen Lighting Design

The lighting solution for a Twenties neo-classical office reception in Gramercy Park combines bold feature lighting with carefully concealed integrated fittings. As well as providing simple, striking elements, the luminaires also highlight old and new architectural details. The ‘restrained, clean and welcoming’ scheme won an IALD Award of Merit.

The entrance to the lobby is a dramatic, double-height barrel vault with decorative coffers. Concealed indirect linear LED lighting is mounted above the cornice line to uplight this historic architectural feature, creating a glowing archway above the updated glazed entrance.

A custom-made cascading OLED installation positioned above the reception desk comprises 162 8cm-diameter circulat OLEDs. Photo Credit: Naomi Castillo PhotographyA custom-made cascading OLED installation positioned above the reception desk comprises 162 8cm-diameter circulat OLEDs. Photo Credit: Naomi Castillo Photography

Floating halos of light – large, circular LED pendants with direct/indirect light distribution – provide ambient lighting along the length of the lobby and complement the curves of the vaulted entry. Decorative LED pendants illuminate the circulation area, while concealed ribbons of LED light frame the new bronze elevators.

Detail of the OLED fixture positioned over the reception desk. Photo Credit: Naomi Castillo PhotographyDetail of the OLED fixture positioned over the reception desk. Photo Credit: Naomi Castillo Photography

The key focal point is the custom-made cascading OLED installation positioned above the reception desk. The chandelier comprises 162 8cm-diameter circular OLEDs, whose colour temperature matches the large direct/indirect pendants.

Floating halos of light provide ambient lighting along the length of the lobby and complement the curves of the vaulted entry. Photo Credit: Naomi Castillo PhotographyFloating halos of light provide ambient lighting along the length of the lobby and complement the curves of the vaulted entry. Photo Credit: Naomi Castillo Photography

The painted bronze, frosted-glass wall behind the reception desk is grazed from above with a concealed LED wallwash cove fitting. An LED ribbon of light at the base of the desk creates a soft glow and a floating effect. ‘This is a simple project,’ said one judge. ‘But the result is so memorable – clean, successful and very elegant.’

Credits
Architect Studios Architecture
Owner Orda Management





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