The team of Office for Metropolitan Architecture and Tillotson Design Associates has created an inspiring place for aspiring architects, using elegantly simple fixtures to light three distinct spatial conditions within the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning's new studio building on Cornell University's campus. The building's lighting design reinforces the architects' ambition of floating a studio space above an inhabitable plaza by contrasting the brightly lit studio with low light levels for the pedestrian area below. A raised concrete bump separates an auditorium and outdoor plaza at ground level from a subgrade gallery with a pin-up space—and the school's main studios are on the upper floor.

In the upper-level studio space, an alternating pattern of chilled beams and custom luminaires of six-lamp indirect/direct T8 pendants provides ample light for late-night model-making. Three façades of floor-to-ceiling windows and 41 skylights provide even illumination across the studio during the day, and photosensors adjust electric light output based on available daylight.

In the pedestrian plaza, Tillotson Design Associates cleverly integrate lighting elements into the architecture, embedding lensed, linear LED luminaires into the storefront glazing mullions to provide visual interest and increase vertical light levels at night. Programmable LED fixtures housed in translucent seating pods activate the space atop the bump by changing colors to indicate different events and activities during the school year. Beneath the bump, a frosted acrylic lamp sleeve helps to mitigate direct glare from the lamps as well as reflections from the gallery's polished concrete floor.

Jury Comments: A gutsy building to which the lighting design responds in kind. • Clever detailing and integration of the lighting into the architectural structure, especially the expanses of concrete.


Project: Milstein Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
Architect: Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rotterdam 
Lighting Designer: Tillotson Design Associates, New York
Photographer: Iwan Baan Photography
Project Size: 47,000 square feet
Project and Lighting Costs: Not available
Watts per Square Foot: 1.2
Manufacturers: Bartco Lighting, Custom Metal Craft, GE Lighting, Philip Omega