Microsoft’s Technology Center serves as a showroom for the company’s products as well as offices for Microsoft staff and client engineers to meet and develop custom solutions. In approaching the renovation of this existing facility, the architecture and lighting design teams at SmithGroupJJR sought to create an environment that would match the company’s corporate brand identity, create a clearer system of wayfinding, and celebrate the tech giant’s logo. To achieve this, the team used color as the design vehicle to connect the interiors to the main façade and building entry sequence.

David Wakely

To start, the mullion and glass structure of the main entry wall mimics the company’s logo of four squares. The glass in each glazing panel is edge lit with color-changing, multichip, RGB, DMX-dimmable linear LEDs. An abstracted architectural sign, it signals to visitors and employees that one has arrived and hints at what is to come. The color system continues inside as it draws people into the double-height lobby and to the reception desk, which is offset by a backlit translucent feature wall, also lit with RGB, DMX-dimmable linear LEDs. Both the exterior wall and the reception desk wall are controlled and coordinated to display the four colors—red, green, blue, and yellow—of the company’s corporate logo.

This color strategy continues through to the main stairway, which wraps around a glass-enclosed multistory server display room. A perimeter cove in the server room conceals blue LEDs that illuminate the glass surfaces, which have a gradient frit applied to the top of the glass enclosure. This helps achieve a 10:1 brightness contrast ratio between the server room and the surrounding ceiling while also eliminating glare. The deep blue hue of the sever room is offset by the adjacent circulation spaces and open-office areas which employ 4000K white-light cylinder-shaped pendants and recessed downlights, respectively.

Color is used both as an illumination device and as a communication device, and is integral to shaping this corporate workplace. 


Project: Microsoft Technology Center, Mountain View, Calif. • Client: Microsoft Corp., Mountain View, Calif. • Architect and Lighting Designer: SmithGroupJJR, Detroit • Team Members (lighting): Matt Alleman, Leland Curtis, Christie Shreve • Photographers: David Wakely Photography, Michael David Rose Photography • Project Size: 18,320 square feet • Project Cost: $4.5 million • Lighting Cost: $250,000 • Watts per Square Foot: 0.92 • Code Compliance: 16,290W, 20 percent under Title 24—Area Category Method • Manufacturers: Artemide, Bartco Lighting, Bega, Erco, Lumenpulse, Philips Color Kinetics, Philips Lightolier, The Lighting Quotient, USAI

Jury Comments
• Lighting supports the corporate identity. • Elegant balance for a corporate solution. • Not overdone. 
• The lighting ties into the wayfinding and provides a clear form of visual communication.

David Wakely