Think sophisticated high-rise office building with complex daylighting systems and a bevy of projects in the United States and Western Europe come to mind—but not for long. With the recently completed HSBC Headquarters tower in Mexico City, a talented group of architects, interior designers, and lighting designers south of the border have announced their arrival on the daylighting scene. A series of firsts for a building in Mexico—the first implementation of a daylight harvesting system in a commercial high-rise office project and the first building in Latin America to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, the 33-story structure blends technological innovation while staying true to its Latin American roots.

Located on the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City's main thoroughfare, and overlooking “The Angel of Independence,” a victory column built to commemorate Mexico's War of Independence, the building is home to more than 2,000 people on a daily basis. Overseeing the building design was HOK's Mexico City office, led by architect Juan Carlos Jimenez, who was hired by Latin American developer GICSA to redesign the core and skin of the building whose foundations already were in place. The building program includes 22 floors of open office area, meeting rooms, an auditorium, executive floors, a cafeteria, on-site exercise facilities, a top-floor winter garden, and a 10-story underground parking garage.

To fulfill the client's primary objective—to achieve energy savings—coupled with the narrowness of the floor plate (a result of the building's floor plan and convex southeast-facing façade overlooking the Paseo de la Reforma) and the office areas being occupied about 12 hours a day, the design team analyzed several options and arrived at a comprehensive lighting control system fully equipped with central control switching panels, daylight and occupancy sensors in the main façade, and stand-alone dimming. The result is a lighting design that principal lighting designer Maria de los Angeles Escobedo of Mexico City–based Unicorp explains saves more than 54 percent of the energy model for the LEED daylighting credit 8.1 and environmental quality credit 8.2. Because each face of the building receives daylight, approximately 14 types of glass are used on the façade, the principal being low-E with a white frit pattern that coincides with the office floors. On the interior, in concert with the lighting equipment, manual shades are concealed in a perimeter ceiling soffit at the curtain wall edge.

In the open office areas, 2-lamp dimmable T8 fluorescent ceiling-recessed fixtures with a baffle and special reflector, to achieve uniform light distribution, and an addressable ballast are spaced in the ceiling every 10 feet on center. The first row of luminaries is set back approximately 12 feet from the curtain wall. The lighting design complies with ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2004 guidelines. Each of the 416 lighting circuits are controlled through a main processor and enable multiple energy savings presets, which also are linked to the overall building management system.

HOK, partnering with Argentinian interior designer Enrica Rossellini, blends contemporary aesthetics and a vibrant color palette to decorative features throughout the project to highlight the building's architectural features. General illumination for the double-height lobby entry is made possible by 35W ceramic HID downlights. A mural depicting Mexican themes painted by noted Mexican artist Juan O'Gorman (1905-1982), relocated from another bank purchased several years prior by HSBC, is reinstalled in the space and accented by 250W PAR38 incandescent fixtures that comply with museum and artwork illumination guidelines. For the elevator corridors, T8 asymmetrical lamps concealed in a lateral cove line the ceiling edge. A recessed cove running down the center of the corridor floor houses a linear array of T5HO lamps whose light is diffused by sandblasted glass. In the cafeteria, 32W compact fluorescent downlights provide task light at the seating banquets while highlighting the interior finish selections and bold colors of orange and lime. In the winter garden, white LED rope lights are clustered behind glass panels, which form a column cover and create a sculptural feature. The space's reflective floor and ceiling surfaces further cast an ambient glow throughout the space. As this area along the Paseo de la Reforma re-emerges as a prominent business district, the architecture and lighting is following suit, establishing Mexican designers as prominent contributors to the current architectural and lighting design landscape and global discussions of sustainability.


PROJECT | HSBC Tower, Mexico City
CLIENT | HSBC Mexico, Mexico City
ARCHITECT | HOK, Mexico City
INTERIOR DESIGNER | Studio Rossellini, Buenos Aires, Argentina
LIGHTING DESIGNER | Unicorp, Mexico City
PROJECT SIZE | 400,000 square feet
WATTS | 1.09 watts per square foot (open office areas)
PHOTOGRAPHER | Juan Jose Diaz Infanta, Mexico City


JUNO CERAMIC HID | Downlights in the lobby and winter garden; MR16 flexible track luminaries throughout the project
LIGHTOLIER | Cafeteria compact fluorescent downlights and halogen wallwashers throughout the project
LUTRON | Graphik 7000 lighting control system with dimmable addressable ballasts
PHILIPS | T8 2-lamp ceiling recessed indirect/ direct luminaire in the open office areas