Office buildings run the risk of falling into anonymity, which was a possibility for 1100 First Street NE, a modernist glass block designed by Krueck + Sexton Architects. But rather than churn out yet another generic D.C. workspace, the architects delivered an inspired and elegantly chiseled form whose simplicity and power were doubled by a luminous lobby designed by lighting firm George Sexton Associates.

The building's transparency is the key to its power. The lighting scheme begins on the sidewalk, where visitors are greeted by a series of rectangular concrete benches, gently illuminated by in-grade LED uplights. From there, passersby can peer inside at an art installation by David Batchelor—a glowing column of multicolored boxes lit from within by fluorescent lamps. This playful feature is the only touch of color in the otherwise cool interior, and provides the lobby with a focal point.

The lobby also hosts a wall of back-painted etched glass, white terrazzo flooring, and painted gypsum ceilings, all of which glow with a suffusive white light. Linear 20W metal halide cove strips graze the outer walls, while the glass wall is backlit by dimmable linear 21W T5 fluorescent lamps. Recessed adjustable fixtures in the ceiling near the curtain wall, also 20W metal halides, flush out the ambient lighting. The glass wall also features a subtle etched diamond pattern that sparkles, an effect that is echoed by the terrazzo flooring. “We incorporated light into the interior forms and on vertical surfaces to eliminate the need for a lot of recessed lighting,” George Sexton explains. “This allowed a complete synchronization of form and light, and an energy-efficient solution that provides an exciting experience both day and at night.”

Jury Comments: The architecture and lighting complement one another and create a beautiful composition. • The lighting is well balanced. • The luminous quality of the freestanding light boxes are a great backdrop for the lobby's focal point artwork.