CHALLENGE No matter how familiar a lighting designer might be with light-emitting diode (LED) technology, it is no easy task to outfit 42,000 square feet of space with LEDs as the main illumination source, particularly when ongoing advancements are a fundamental component of employing this lighting technology. But that was the task before lighting designer Paul Gregory, principal of New York City–based Focus Lighting, and his team when charged with creating a compelling space for one of the major companies on the LED scene—Color Kinetics, now Philips Solid-State Lighting Solutions since its acquisition in August 2007. To create a distinctive yet unifying space across two different floors of a nondescript suburban office park building, Gregory says the design team “needed to think outside the box to solve the problems” that arose with using LEDs as the main light source for this project.
SOLUTION Illuminating a space primarily with LEDs was a challenge because, as Gregory explains, there is not yet a viable substitute for linear fluorescent or a 50W MR16 lamp. In some cases, he says, “We found we were going to have to use more wattage to get the same effect.” To resolve this, the Focus Lighting team worked closely with Color Kinetics to achieve the dynamic headquarters and showroom the company was after.
One of two spaces Focus Lighting designed is the first floor showroom, located off the building's main lobby. Rolling display boxes measuring about 6 feet high and 12 feet long are the principal design feature and allow the room to be rearranged with ease. “It's adaptable,” Gregory says. “You can pop panels off to show more products, or you can clear the whole room out and use it for a sales meeting.”
Arriving at the fourth floor via elevator, guests enter the other principal part of the project scope. A blue-hued ceiling, seating area, large reception desk, and video walls that feature images of Color Kinetics lighting installations greet employees and visitors as they enter the space. “The video wall was conceptualized as a showcase for completed projects, a place they could showcase the benefits and abilities of their products,” Gregory explains. Color Kinetics controls the content of the video wall, which is updated often and gives the company the opportunity to customize the projections for clients.
The other main design features are the two tunnels, one to either side of the reception area, that lead you to the administrative offices and engineering and research departments, respectively. The walkways “were conceived as a dynamic transition space between the lobby and the work areas,” Gregory says. To go between these sections, employees must transverse the central reception area, which also provides access to two conference rooms. The portals, lined with a light-diffusing material made up of channels cut into polycarbonate sheets called Sensitile, are backlit by more than 24,000 individually controlled LED nodes, which allow these spaces to have a theatrical-like quality as they scroll through millions of colors
In the office areas, Gregory says current LED technology did not deliver the general lighting effect desired, so custom-designed linear fluorescent indirect/direct T5 fixtures with a lens were used instead. However, planning for a time in the future when these fixtures can be equipped with LEDs, Gregory notes that the idea is to “retrofit them as soon as the technology becomes viable. The power and data throughout the space have been designed and wired with this in mind.”
While Gregory admits the project was challenging, he and the client are pleased with the outcome, which is a “beautiful, energy-efficient, functional space.” For Gregory, the project's success was important because it had to provide a signature space for Color Kinetics and had to promote the very technology around which the company has been built—LEDs. “When you walk into the Color Kinetics office, you get an image in your mind that you remember,” he says, which is proof that the lighting design has accomplished its mission.
PROJECT | Color Kinetics Corporate Headquarters and Showroom, Burlington, Massachusetts
DESIGN TEAM | Focus Lighting, New York City (lighting designer)
PHOTOGRAPHER | Focus Lighting, New York City