Inspired by Vancouver’s natural landscapes, more specifically a tree, this global tech company’s space was designed to highlight its architectural features. Senior Associate, Allison Hunter, together with Senior Designer, Maria Dautant, talk about the design aesthetic and what led them to the their unique lighting solutions. “The architectural lighting of this project complements the natural surrounding context, yet encourages the core values and behavior of the forward-thinking tech world, setting a high bar for corporate office design.” – Says Allison.

What made this project or experience special to you and your team?

Allison: The architectural team dynamic was very successful for such a large scale project on a tight budget and schedule. The relationships we established and open communication between the team was the key to the success of the project and ultimately a happy Client.

Maria: The concept developed by the architectural team truly allowed us to be creative in how the lighting would enhance the architectural features and make them the main attraction of the space. It was an unconventional, yet elegant, approach for a tech office but still, I feel, we were able to meet the challenge.

Describe an energy challenge and how was it met.

The team was tasked to meet a connected load of 0.77 W/sq ft which was an existing requirement set by the building; this was 23% below the Client’s energy goal which made it challenging to meet their illumination requirements. All the lighting specified for the project was LED. This challenge was accomplished using highly efficient luminaires for the working areas allowing the opportunity for accent and decorative lighting in specialty areas. The project also took advantage of the abundant daylight and high ceiling volumes; the artificial lighting automatically responds to incoming daylight in the working areas on the perimeter.

Describe a design challenge and how was it achieved.

The architectural team wanted to reflect the natural landscape of Vancouver; creating a dropped wooden canopy within the high volumes that extend to “rooted” elements on the lower floor. To create a “dappled” light effect as seen in nature, the lighting solution consisted of a random array of adjustable downlights with an indirect component, allowing both light and shadow to filter through the wood forms.

Were aspects of the project culturally or historically significant?

The space was originally designed for a flagship retail space; this program allowed for significantly high ceiling volumes, but challenging older MEP infrastructure which made it challenging for the team to meet energy goals.

Were there budget constraints and how were they met?

The project had a very tight budget with an ambitious design aesthetic and very specific illumination requirements sought by the Owner. Communication was key; HLB utilized as few as Manufacturers as possible to maximize industry buying power and worked closely with the Owner’s Representative and Construction teams to protect the spec at a reasonable price.

Were there schedule constraints for design process or construction? If so, how was this addressed?

HLB worked closely with the Owner’s Representative and Construction team through the design process to ensure the project was on budget, met the illumination and energy goals of the Client, and enhanced the architectural vision of the design team. All the financial contingency set aside for the project was added to the lighting budget which illustrates that lighting was a very important design element for the team and Client.

What was your favorite aspect of involvement in the project?

Allison: My favorite part of the process was experiencing the architectural vision in person and seeing the design goals realized. The scale of this project was HUGE! It was difficult to grasp until I walked through the space myself. I also really enjoyed working with Clive Wilkinson; I felt our design input was valued; empowering both myself and HLB.

Maria: Working with such a creative and collaborative team was my favorite aspect of the project. It pushed us to look for state of the art ideas and innovative ways to solving problems and achieving the project goals.

What were the project’s goals regarding lighting?

The lighting had to be very flexible and adapt to the needs of the occupants. Impromptu meeting/gathering spaces were encouraged and planned for throughout the expansive floor plate where the work “neighborhoods” converge. In addition, the open floor plan was very vast and potentially confusing; we wanted the lighting to help guide occupants through the space.

How were these goals achieved?

On the lower floor, lighting was artfully tucked within the rooted architectural forms illuminating writing surfaces, creating an aspect of intimacy, and encouraging connectivity in the vast open floor plan. On the upper floor, long linear lights with a modified low output were intentionally recessed above the wood elements where the ceiling planes came together which subtly enforced way-finding and enhanced the architectural forms.

Are there any best practices that we have learned through this project?

Attentive project management was key to the success of this project; communication was encouraged for both the Design team, Client, and Construction team which led to a positive result.
“The architectural features inspired by the natural landscape are the protagonist of this space and the lighting is the silent companion that reveals their beauty, creating a vibrant atmosphere that is ready for the next tech innovation.” – Says Maria.

Architect Mention: Clive Wilkinson Architects

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