Lighting Ambiance Contributes To Work Environment

Illumination is anything but corporate at Microsoft Technology Center.

Syrios SY606 pendant, with an up and downlight, was selected as the predominant fixture throughout common spaces and corridors. Photography: John D’Angelo

Microsoft recently moved its regional technology and training center from Southfield, MI, to downtown Detroit’s central business district, taking advantage of that area’s growing tech hub. It occupies the fifth floor of One Campus Martius in a 45,000-sq.-ft. space. On any given day the technology center plays host to customers and Microsoft executives and employees, using the facility for R&D, product demonstrations, training, and meetings.

While many of the rooms are designed for function, three informal gathering areas and wide-open corridors anchor the overall space. The aesthetic combines residential and commercial design elements, using furniture, area rugs, and wall elements traditionally associated with residential design. Illuminart, the lighting division of Peter Basso Associates Inc., Troy, MI, was brought in to address the diverse lighting requirements for the project.  

The technology center combines residential and commercial design elements. Lighting in the common spaces and corridors is intended to set a calming mood, contributing to a hospitality feel.

“There is definitely more of a hospitality vibe,” said Elizabeth Williams, lighting designer at Illuminart. “It’s a comfortable, visually interesting space, with areas for clients to sit and enjoy themselves without feeling too corporate.”

Lighting in the common spaces and corridors is intended to set a calming mood, contributing to that hospitality feel. Montreal-based Luminis’ Syrios SY606 pendant, with an up and downlight, was selected as the predominant fixture throughout these areas. The architect wanted a luminaire that “disappeared into the space,” yet still had a strong industrial feel to match the high, exposed ceilings. Williams explained that the Syrios SY606 made a lot of sense based on aesthetics, but also because the luminaire was able to provide a significant amount of light in an energy-efficient package. The uplight delivers a distinctive glow on the exposed ceiling to highlight the expanse, while the downlight pushes light to the individual workspaces, task areas, and walkways. The black exterior finish of the fixture blends into the dark ceilings and ductwork.

Williams specifically chose a regressed light module on the downlight for visual comfort. “I wanted to be sure that there were appropriate light levels in all of the spaces, but I did not want glare coming from the base of the cylinder. The lighting had to be comfortable to sit underneath; when employees or clients glance up, they are not blinded by light.”

Lumistik CL322, a cylindrical pendant with a 3-in. dia. and a diffused acrylic lens, provides ambient light and aesthetics. Thirty pendants form two rows, interspersed with acoustic ceiling accents that emulate a “wave.”

Creating Ambiance

Another component of the lighting design was the ability to create ambiance while still providing an environment that was conducive to work. Williams paid a lot of attention to where tasks would be taking place, including furniture layout and work surfaces. So, she appreciated that the Syrios fixture is adjustable from the top and bottom. “There are giant drop-metal ceilings in the middle of the space, which limited the areas where I could place the luminaires. It was great to be able to make adjustments to the lighting on site during the installation, angling the light beams as we needed.”

Williams also opted for a Luminis product in the kitchenette area adjacent to a training room. The contemporary Lumistik CL322, a cylindrical pendant with a 3-in. dia. and a diffused acrylic lens, was used to provide the right combination of ambient light and aesthetics. Thirty pendants form two striking rows down the length of the space, interspersed with acoustic ceiling accents that emulate a “wave.” Williams noted that the training room is more functional and corporate in its design, so they sought to create a break area that provided a contrast and enabled users to “shift their perspective.” The Lumistik products provide a welcoming, comfortable light to the overall space but also direct the appropriate amount of light to various areas such as tables, counters, and appliances.

Additional products from the Syrios family were used in other common areas to complement the SY606. The SY310 surface-mount fixtures and SY305 pendants are located in the server display areas and Executive Briefing Center service counter and vestibules.

Williams commented, “It’s great to work with a manufacturer like Luminis that carries lines with a lot of different design options. It enables me to maintain the design aesthetics of my project while fulfilling specific functional needs.”

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