Creating Innovative Workplace Lighting Solutions

Efficient, innovative and creative lighting systems are a high priority for companies planning the interior design of new or upgraded workspaces.

“Companies are in competition to hire and retain staff, and are looking for ways to maintain an edge,” said Melanie Taylor, lighting design vice president at WSP USA. “High-quality lighting that is unique—and even whimsical—is one element that is used to create collaborative, dynamic and high-performance workplace environments.”

While contemplating those factors, company decision makers are also thinking about sustainability and durability when making their lighting choices.

“Lighting should be energy efficient by using a low-lighting power density and automatic lighting controls, and the system should be robust to reduce long-term maintenance issues,” Taylor said. “Companies are often willing to invest a bit more on their lighting systems when they can visualize the long-term benefits and savings they will realize.”

©2017 NBBJ

The lighting design for Amazon in the Regrade received a 2017 IES Award of Merit.

Sustainable Strategies

When a company begins to review its lighting options, many factors can impact the decision, such as the unique layout of a facility, budget limitations and sustainability mandates.

Lighting design should begin at the concept development of a project, not as an afterthought near the end of construction,” Taylor said. “WSP’s lighting studio helps plan and implement innovative lighting strategies and create unique spaces for each location, document lighting controls in detail and work with the contractors to ensure the installation and operation is correct.”

This approach creates an opportunity to develop standard, cost-effective designs that can be implemented successfully at multiple locations.

“Standard lighting guidance and documentation helps develop a well-designed system that can be applied to many locations,” Taylor said. “WSP often works with client procurement departments to specify, review and approve standard light fixtures.”

A standardized approach also help clients with multiple facilities create consistent lighting systems across many offices.

“Companies are much more connected across their offices nationally and globally, and desire to have a consistent design,” she said. “So standard lighting in the office spaces and meetings rooms—combined with unique lighting in amenity, café, and teaming spaces—complement the character of a specific location.”


Lighting in the CBS Sports workplace staff lounges helps identify different seating areas and types.

Lighting Honors

Several WSP projects have been recognized with top lighting honors. Recent award-winning projects include:
Gensler Denver, a 23,000-square-foot office building in Denver, received the 2017 Brilliance Award of Merit for small scale commercial buildings.
Charlotte Chamber received the 2017 Brilliance Award of Merit for small-scale commercial buildings for the renovation of its 21,000-square-foot headquarters in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina.
400 Fairview, a 14-story, 335,000-square-foot mixed use office building in Seattle, earned the Illumination Engineering Society (IES) 2017 Award of Merit.
Building 22 Center for Student Success South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) in Olympia, a 90,000-square-foot student campus center, earned the 2017 IES Award of Merit.
Amazon in the Regrade, a central hub of the internet-based retailer’s downtown Seattle corporate campus, earned the 2017 IES Award of Merit.
• National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s 350,000-square-foot Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, earned the Committee on the Environment (COTE) of the American Institute of Architects 2017 Top Ten Award, as well as the 2016 IES Special Citation Award for energy and environmental lighting design.
• Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus near Pittsburgh earned the COTE 2017 Top Ten Award.

“Our current development of smart lighting and well-building lighting for WSP’s recent and current high-tech clients puts WSP in a good place as these trends are adopted across more workplaces,” Taylor said.

Working Together

While efficient lighting systems can save in the long term, Taylor said keeping costs under control during construction or renovation is usually a chief concern among clients.

“There are often budget issues, so it is important to collaborate with a lighting designer that can provide cost estimate support to make informed decisions regarding where to spend their lighting system dollars.”

Evaluations include installation costs versus long-term operation and life-cycle costs, and coordination of various design elements, including architecture, HVAC, sprinklers and electrical systems.

“WSP coordinates with all stakeholders, including our in-house teams, to make sure the project can be built with minimal conflicts,” Taylor said.

Renovation of existing buildings can sometimes produce surprises that require extra coordination, but there are also times when the existing light fixtures can be successfully reused to save money and reduce installation time.

“Providing a combined set of sustainable and smart building services can create beautiful and functional workplaces,” Taylor said. “Sustainability is a keystone to everything we do in our lighting practice.”


WSP provided lighting design for the Gensler office building in Denver.

Working Space

Taylor said while most lighting design feedback from clients has been favorable, sometimes, silence is as golden as the natural and efficient light that is illuminating a new workspace.

“In some cases, the project is a success when the users of the space do not even notice the lighting,” she said. “They just know the space feels good and works for them.”

Taylor enjoys getting to know her clients, understanding their objectives, and working closely with them to achieve their goals for a better workplace.

“It is rewarding to be a client’s go-to person for lighting, and create wonderful places to work,” she said. “WSP’s lighting studio staff learns with each project and applies what we learn to new projects. Innovation and the use of new technology is an ongoing element of lighting design, and part of what keeps it interesting.”

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WSP provided lighting design for a well-known online retailer.


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