Quietly tucked away in a mixed-use complex of historic townhouses and warehouses in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., this membership-only lounge is an architectural study in contrasts. Located in a basement space with exposed brick walls, the design team was tasked with creating a space that would be warm and inviting, but also refined. Layering light with material finishes provided the solution to create a sophisticated and understated environment. The abundance of white surfaces was particularly challenging for the lighting team at MCLA as they employed lighting strategies to minimize issues of reflectance and to maintain lower light levels in what is typically a dim setting.

Arriving at L2 Lounge, one is greeted by intense color in the narrow entry vestibule, which is lined with glass walls backlit with 1W RGB color-changing LED modules. But the heart of the space is a suite of six seating and bar areas called “salons.” The defining characteristic of these spaces is a series of gypsum frames backlit with warm white linear 3000K 1W LED fixtures. The lighting makes the frames appear to float in front of the exposed brick walls. The light also provides an illuminated outline for video art projections in the center of each frame.

To maintain a clean ceiling plane, 50W PAR30 halogen track spots are tucked between the edge of the walls and the acoustic stretch fabric ceilings in each lounge. The smooth white finishes of ceiling and frame provide an effective contrast to the rough texture of the brick. As an accent in the salons, the front face of the two bars are backlit with color-changing LEDs, similar to the treatment of the entryway. Color is also used to playful effect in the unisex restrooms, where gender is noted by a symbol on each stall and lit in either pink or blue. Throughout, lighting is integrated into the architecture creating a sleek and elegant space for entertaining.

Jury Comments
Jim Baney: Less is more … more painstaking detailing … more “sweating the small stuff” … and it all paid off.
Denise Fong: The lighting is ethereal. It moves the design to a whole other level.
Randy Sabedra: It's like walking into a Rothko painting—mysterious, hypnotic, and sensual.

Manufacturers / Applications
Birchwood: Kitchen lighting
Lutron: Wall box dimmers
Philips Color Kinetics: LED color-changing panels in entry and bar fronts
ProLume: LED wall frames in lounges
Times Square Lighting: Tracklighting
USA Illumination: Ceiling downlights