To make this pro-bono design effort for a nonprofit clinic in San Francisco come together, lighting consultancy H.E. Banks + Associates was challenged to use limited resources in creative ways. Magnet, a sexual health center for the gay community offering activities such as readings, art exhibits, town hall meetings, and social events, as well as medical services, wanted an environment that would look and feel as inviting and comfortable as a hip lounge, but designed and built within a small budget.

Interior designer David Meckley in collaboration with H.E. Banks's senior lighting designer Claudio Ramos conceived the initial scheme. The team was later joined by architect Rachel Hamilton of Hamilton & Company, who completed the design. Meckley's primary concept for the lobby is an undulating ceiling comprised of curved translucent panels (donated to the project by USG), which are backlit with T5 striplights for ambient illumination. This floating creation is the focal point of the clinic's lobby. Additional lighting is supplied by an adjustable low-voltage rail system.

A secondary lighting strategy illuminates the surfaces and the back of the lobby, drawing visitors deeper into the space. 'Initially,' relates H.E. Banks designer Jody Pritchard, 'the lobby design called for an LED color-changing cove at the back wall to create movement and a rainbow sequence that would attract attention.' However, says Pritchard, Ramos 'always starts with a 'best-case solution'; then we figure out how we can make it work.' With a $6,900 budget and 1,100 square feet of space to light, the designers settled on a fluorescent cove light with a blue gel filter. Monopoints with blue dichroic filters above the ceiling and fluorescent cove introduce plays of color that mark a curved pathway on the ceiling, helping draw guests through the space. Industrial sign lighters highlight a metal 'magnet wall' at the entrance, and a selection of only four standard lamp types employed throughout the project reduce cost and simplify maintenance.

Instead of using less expensive T8 lamps, which would not meet code, Pritchard explains, the designers selected products that would meet codes the first time around, avoiding later changes to the design and saving costs in the long run. 'Although we didn't collect any fees,' says Pritchard, 'I hope we can show the design community how a lighting designer can be an integral component to the success of a project without a huge cost added to the budget.' A|L


Project Magnet, San Francisco

Lighting design H.E. Banks + Associates, San Francisco

Interior design MK Think, San Francisco

Architecture Hamilton & Company, Berkeley, California

Photographer David Toerge

Project size 1,100 square feet

Watts per square foot 1.32

Installation cost $6,900

Manufactures Delray, Forum, Halo, Metalux, Prudential,

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