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Anchored on a hill overlooking the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge, this laboratory houses researchers creating transport fuels from sunlight. Extraordinary views and generous daylighted interiors are coupled with welcoming, quality luminous environments after sunset. With a mission and client devoted to sustainability, efficient lighting sources and design were crucial. Daylight harvesting sensors, occupancy sensors and sun control are all utilized to reduce electrical demand and deliver balanced visual comfort to occupants engaged in demanding tasks. Connection to nature and circadian rhythms are supported by the diurnal pattern that shifts from cool daylight to warmer electrical light at dusk.

A double-height lobby space that doubles as an event and gathering space demanded a lighting approach uncommon in laboratory buildings. Skylights illuminate a double-height wall during the day and at night carefully aimed recessed LEDs bathe the wall in light. A backlit glass whiteboard is the room's centerpiece, and careful mockup study allowed us to refine the custom configuration to eliminate source glare while maintaining a uniformly bright surface. This is made possible with 10ox60o linear LED strips reflecting off a white backing and illuminating diffusing glass. The lobby's custom furniture is also internally illuminated, which was achieved by building full-scale mockups and testing numerous fixtures, mounting, and aiming configurations. The lobby's ceiling is illuminated by small wall-mounted asymmetric uplights and recessed downlights provide supplemental illumination to the floor. Finally, handrail-integrated asymmetric point sources provide a refined and mysterious glow to the stair at the end of the space.

In the laboratories, two sources were used to illuminate the critical bench worksurfaces. Overhead direct-indirect pendants were specified with a very wide upward batwing distribution to effectively illuminate the ceiling, and 45-degree downward cutoff provides low levels of both diffuse and direct light without glare. Under-shelf task lights were customized with integrated occupancy sensors with dim-to-off control, a diffusing film to eliminate multiple shadows of working hands, and a custom power cord for the task light to move up and down with the shelf. This high-performance solution was also relatively low cost, with customizations only adding $5 per linear foot to a low-cost fixture. At 0.85 W/ft2, the lab lighting power density was 60% of that allowed by code while maintaining an average of more than 600 lux on the work surface at night.


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Berkeley, CA

Occupied, 2015

USGBC LEED Gold Certification

SF LUX Award for Energy and Environmental Lighting Design, IES San Francisco, 2017

Merit Award, IES North America, 2017

Photos by Bruce Damonte.