The interplay of light and primary colors, with simple geometric architectural forms, defines the 15,000-square-foot office of Julien J. Studley, a commercial real estate firm in Chicago.

Conceived by architecture firm VOA Associates, this dynamic is most apparent in the reception area, where two rectangular elements are highlighted with light: Behind the reception desk, a vertical block of white acrylic glows, backlit with a fluorescent source . On another wall in the waiting room, a blue acrylic-block wall section that separates the waiting area from the adjacent conference room is illuminated with cold cathode, a long-life source chosen to minimize maintenance in the hard-to-access space . This featured element, notes the design firm in its project description, is intended to create 'a sense of well-being through color that is empowered by light. It is non-threatening, soothing, and soft.' The highlighted backdrop of blue also allows the various red elements-furniture and the wall behind the reception desk-to pop, 'energizing the space with warmth and passion.'

In the workstation area, cubes and planes interact with light and color to visually enliven what, in many offices, is a dull view of standard cubicles. Much of the lighting is adeptly incorporated into architectural details, revealing very little of the lighting equipment, a fact that impressed the A|L Design Awards judges. Here, it is not about the fixtures, notes Nicholas Luzietti, the design principal on the project. 'It's really about the output and quality of the light.' Simple and efficient T5 fluorescents hidden in the base of the cubicles signal a clear path down the corridor . Above, T5s tucked in coves over the work area provide ambient light, while recessed downlights provide additional illumination without cluttering the ceiling plane.

More prominent decorative fixtures add punch in meeting areas, like the break and conference rooms. In the breakout space, the blue glass pendants are 'fun and casual, fostering a sense of relaxation and escape from the work environment,' stated the design firm, whereas the conference room features a direct/indirect T5HO pendant that mimics the sleek geometric architectural forms throughout the office .

The importance lighting plays in the character of the space is clear, a function of the way the firm approaches the medium: 'There is an energy to light unlike that of any other element that can be incorporated into the space,' notes the design firm, a concept that dates back to the earliest buildings. In designing the Studley office, the firm's intention was to celebrate the 'unique power of light.'