Lighting Complements ‘Study Cascade’ Design

A 14-story staircase showpiece is brought to life by a lighting design that doesn’t intrude on surrounding residences.

The Study Cascade staircase connects all 14 stories of the 100,000 sq. ft. Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center a state-of-the-art medical and graduate education building in New York City. All photos: John Muggenborg

The Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center is a state-of-the-art medical and graduate education building in New York City. The 100,000-sq.-ft., 14-story glass tower represents a new approach to education, featuring technologically advanced classrooms and collaboration spaces. The design’s centerpiece is the Study Cascade, an exposed vertical staircase that connects the entire height of the building.

The exposed nature of the Study Cascade’s design on the southern side of the building presented a unique challenge for the lighting team of Suzan Tillotson, Scott Baillie-Hinojosa, and Christopher Cheap, Tillotson Design Associates, New York City. The lighting had to be precise and powerful but, because the building is located in one of New York City’s residential districts, the team wanted a conscientious lighting strategy that would not intrude on residents, drivers, and pedestrians.

Additionally, the vertical orientation of the building’s southern exposure called for a lighting solution that would complement the architect’s design ambition. Luminaires would be strategically placed in wood and canted ceilings to effectively deliver appropriate light levels and coverage for the variety of programs that connect to the Cascade.

Study lounges are one of many functions provided by and connected to the Study Cascade. The entire Cascade is lit with Prescolite 2-in. LED luminaires driven by the Xicato light engine.

The LED system

With custom optics designed around the precision Xicato light engine, Prescolite’s, Greenville, SC, D2LED and A2LED luminaires were selected to satisfy the need for clean ceilings with minimal obtrusiveness. The Xicato LED module also guarantees color longevity. The luminaires, which deliver as much as 1,200 lumens with a variety of beam options, are powerful and flexible enough for use in the Cascade’s ceilings, especially in areas that reach 20 to 30 ft.

The intelligent design of the A2LED was developed specifically for sloped ceilings. It features a smooth 35-deg. optical pattern that can be adjusted and locked as much as 30 deg. from a vertical plane. It can also be adjusted 360 deg. rotationally, providing maximum aiming flexibility.

In addition, the install-from-below features of the A2 and D2 eliminated the need for a traditional downlight housing, which simplified installation. This feature also afforded the design team flexibility during the construction phase that ensured the fixtures were placed in optimal positions.

Lighting payoff

This view from the Study Cascade shows several of the areas that are connected to the stairs and how the lighting design enhances the spaces.

The building itself is nothing short of stunning and is likely to change the paradigm of how medical-training facilities are designed. By using a 2-in.-dia. luminaire, the team was able to avoid the “Swiss cheese” effect and instead feature a sleek look throughout.

The custom optic around the source discourages the human eye from being drawn into the fixture, ensuring minimal glare, complementing the design ambitions of the architect, and satisfying the needs of the external stakeholders. Consistency of color quality helps achieve the minimalistic aesthetic throughout the vertical incline of the facility.

These products complement the space and the angles without interfering or overpowering the architectural atmosphere they create. In this application, the lighting enhances the architect’s vision. According to Tillotson’s Scott Baillie-Hinojosa, “The attributes of Prescolite’s A2LED and D2LED presented the team with options that other products at the time were not able to offer. The small apertures and degree of adjustability all worked in our favor to complement the complex geometries of the architecture while at the same time minimizing glare and delivering comfortable light levels throughout. The finished product is stunning.”


— Download the D2LED downlight spec sheet.

— Download the A2LED spec sheet.

— Download the Prescolite 2-in. LED lighting system brochure.

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