Sited adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial, the United States Institute of Peace boldly makes its mark on the Washington, D.C., skyline with a white luminescent roof, whose curving, steel-framed form evokes a dove in flight. The roofs shelter the building’s three wings—which encompass 150,000 square feet—as well as two soaring atria. Lam Partners delivered a subtle lighting design that focuses attention on the structure’s clean, minimalist architecture with nary a hint of a fixture in view.

The roof sections are composed of a whitefritted outer-glass shell and an inner-white fabric membrane that sandwiches the steel framing elements. During the day, sunlight transforms the roofs into brilliant umbrellas. To create a similar effect at night, the designers placed T5HO forward-throw cove fixtures at the tops of the atria walls. Digitally controllable ballasts allow light output to be tuned along the roof’s perimeter and dimmed overall, subtly accentuating the roof’s curvature. This single source simultaneously creates interior ambient lighting and the beacon-like glow of the exterior.

The designers made ample use of daylight in the office wings as well. Perimeter offi ces are fully daylit, and the natural light is supplemented with T5 linear pendant downlights. In the corridors, clerestories bring in daylight and T5 strips integrated into the bases keep the passageways’ ceilings pristine.

Jury Comments: Beautifully done. • The lighting of the roof structure is a technical feat.


Architect: Safdie Architects, Somerville, Mass.
Lighting Designer: Lam Partners, Cambridge, Mass.
Photographer: Bill Fitz-Patrick/USIP (bottom left), Glenn Heinmiller (all others)
Project Size: 150,000 square feet
Project Cost: $110 million
Watts per Square Foot: Not subject to local building jurisdictions or energy codes due to project’s foreign nation status.
Manufacturers: Bartco Lighting, Bega, B-K Lighting, Celestial, Corelite, Con-Tech Lighting, Cooper Lighting, Edison Price, Engineered Lighting Products, Eureka, Kramer Lighting, Lam Lighting, Linear Lighting, Lithonia (Acuity Brands), LSI Industries, Lutron, Focal Point, Philips Day-Brite, Philips Lightolier, Shaper (Cooper Lighting), Selux, Spring City, WattStopper, Wila Lighting, We-ef