For this Silicon Valley–based venture capital firm, who requested to remain anonymous, Sean O’Connor Lighting was tasked with designing a lighting scheme that would be both environmentally responsible and technologically sophisticated. Furthering the complexity of the job was the client’s request that only LED sources be used. To that end, O’Connor and his team came up with a design that employs just three luminaire types: linear light slots, downlights, and backlit panels.

The office’s neutral material palette of wood and glass meant that the lighting had to maintain a uniform brightness. In the offices and corridors, 3500K LED light slots have custom-designed asymmetrical downward and outward light distribution. The dual optics provide both soft grazing for the wood and glass surfaces as well as tasklighting, while still keeping the ceiling plane free of fixtures.

In areas that require directional light, such as the conference rooms, custom miniature downlights fit in between the slats of the wooden ceiling system. The modularity and flexibility of the lighting is also present in its control system. Luminaires are individually addressed so that they can be zoned in groups, or separately using Wi-Fi-enabled devices. The lighting transforms the stair area of this two-story building into a sculptural configuration. A backlit stretched ceiling—controlled by a daylight-responsive dimming system—and purple-etched laminated glass walls glow without a trace of any fixture silhouette. The stair stringer details were coordinated with the architect so that the stairs “float” against the luminous backdrop. Cutting-edge technology combined with an elegant palette of earth-tone finishes make this office a comfortable and easy-going environment.

Project: Venture Capital Office Building, Menlo Park, Calif. •  Entrant: Sean O’Connor Lighting, Beverly Hills, Calif. •  Owner/Clients: Withheld at owner’s request •  Architect: Paul Murdoch Architects, Beverly Hills, Calif. •  Lighting Designer: Sean O’Connor Lighting, Beverly Hills, Calif.  Team Members: Sean O’Connor, Becky Yam, Martha Lopacki, and Jenny Sung •  Photographer: Eric Staudenmaier Photography, Los Angeles •  Project Size: 29,600 square feet •  Project Cost: Withheld •  Lighting Cost: Withheld •  Watts per Square Foot: 0.62W •  Code Compliance: Title 24 •  Manufacturers: Architectural Lighting Works; Birchwood Lighting; HK Lighting; Philips; Zumtobel Jury Comments: Takes a limited and ordinary office palette and turns it into something sophisticated. • The stair is awesome.