When the international consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) opened its new West Coast headquarters in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, it was in good company. Directly across the street from the historic Los Angeles Public Library, the BCG office occupies the 51st and 52nd floors of the north tower of City National Plaza and offers stunning views of the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains along with other landmarks, such as the famous Hollywood sign and Dodger Stadium.
With such notable neighbors, BCG wanted this office to express the company’s shared purpose of expanding “the art of the possible,” according to Shubin Donaldson, the Los Angeles-based design firm that led the project. Most importantly, the consulting firm wanted its space to evoke the 360° perspective and sense of “unlimited possibility” that is the hallmark of the firm’s work and its culture. The design team determined that the aesthetic needed to resonate and reflect the many facets that influence business work conditions today.
In its research, the team at Shubin Donaldson discovered that most of the BCG consultants would occupy the 45,000-sq.-ft. penthouse headquarters only 25 percent of the time. They would typically spend the bulk of their work week meeting clients at their respective offices and coming together at the BCG offices for weekly updates.
For that reason, creating a series of large individual offices would be an inefficient use of the space. Instead, the team opted to create a variety of non-assigned custom workstations – a model called “hoteling” – where staff members could collaborate.
The Shubin Donaldson project team designed 210 workstations: 130 traditional and the other 70- 80 as an alternative system. The plans allotted for 24 private offices and 30 meeting rooms clustered in the center portion, leaving the perimeter open so that the expansive views of the city were accessible to all. The team then devised a variety of unique features including a 16′ x 20′ skylight, an outdoor terrace, and a Zen-inspired work area bordered by a delicately draped “hanging garden.”
LIGHTING AN OPEN & ETHEREAL SPACE
Handling the lighting design was Culver Citybased Oculus Light Studio, under the guidance of Principals Scott Hatton and Archit Jain, and Senior Designer Carol Prendergast. Utilizing BCG’s core beliefs of “partnership and transformation,” the Oculus team integrated the lighting into the architecture to transform it into a sustainable, enjoyable, and open environment. Their lighting plan featured the combination of a variety of architectural lighting elements in the form of recessed linear fixtures, downlights, and pendants with large decorative luminaires to support the scale of the space.
The lighting design was subtle, so as not to interfere with the uninterrupted 360° vista of the outdoors which underscored the company ethos of “unlimited possibilities” while also amplifying the expansiveness of the space.
Upon entering the offices, guests are visually drawn to the definitive contrast of light and dark throughout. Concealed LED strip lights and a variety of decorative pendants provide a striking contrast with the modern architectural elements, interior furnishings, plus white and dark finishes.
A stunning focal point is the RGB programmable skylight that draws the eye to the high ceilings and cloud-like feeling on the Mezzanine level. The 16’x 20′ skylight opening is accented around the perimeter with DuraTape RGB LED strip lights that are set to correlate to the skyline. The programming can be manually changed by the receptionist to any color for special occasions with a DMX controller.
Approximately 200 feet of this same linear LED strip light in 3000K delivers a striking ethereal glow along the stairs, under counters, and in the coves of the elevator lobby. White accent lighting is used to visually guide occupants from the 51st floor atrium to the 52nd floor, where additional work stations are located. Multiple works of art on the walls are highlighted with surface-mounted wall washers concealed in the vertical linear perimeter slots along the hallway on the 51st floor.
“One of the intents for the project was to keep ceilings as clean as possible. Most of the light at offices, work stations, conference rooms, and communal spaces comes from decorative elements with few recessed downlights at high spaces above corridors,” Prendergast comments. “We also illuminated large vertical areas with linear perimeter slots to balance shadows coming in through the large surrounding windows during daytime. The main multi-purpose room needed a lot of flexibility as this would be used as a break room and video/ meeting space.” To illuminate this area, the Oculus team employed cylinder fixtures concealed between ceiling panels for general illumination with a secondary layer of light provided by both large (72″) and small (52″) round pendants (Cycle) directly above communal work tables. The booths utilize glass niche modern pendants to minimize their impact on the view yet still provide ample light on the table.
The kitchen counter is distinguished by an organic glass pendant by Eureka, which serves as a decorative element. To deliver the ideal task lighting behind the kitchen, Targetti customized its CCT Mini Adjustable downlight fixture to deliver the high-output optics with a small aperture that the design team required.
Working with a vast open space presented the Oculus team with a few design complications, such as the high ceilings. Wanting to keep the ceiling plane as clean as possible, the team illuminated the General Office areas with a variety of 4-, 6-, 8-, and 12-ft. linear pendants by Pinnacle and approximately 300 feet of concealed linear wall-mounted uplights and wall grazers for perimeter illumination from Bartco.
Most of the decorative pendants were standard except for the two customized 12′ x 8′ rectangular models by ALW that hang directly above the work stations on the Mezzanine level.
Decorative large Switch pendants by Eureka hang from the 52nd floor’s high ceiling and can be seen from the Mezzanine level. Oculus worked with the manufacturer to create a custom stem for the application.
“Due to the height of the ceilings, we needed a custom stem to attach to the upper deck for support with a fake canopy at the suspended ceiling,” Prendergast explains. “The stem needed to give the appearance that it was suspended from the lower ceiling, but also allowed us to lower those pendants directly above work stations where lighting was needed.”
“We kept the ceilings as clean as possible by using a lot of decorative elements strategically placed to maximize distribution plus wall-mounted linear elements for perimeter lighting,” she adds. “We had to study multiple sections of the space to ensure that the mounting heights of all decorative fixtures were comfortable as the user stood at all levels.”
A “hanging garden” composed of a thin, steel-rod lattice is one of the most memorable architectural spaces in the project. The structure supports a lush, meditative Zen garden that rests 52 stories above the bustle of the street below. To maintain the airy feeling, the Oculus team specified the Wireflow single pendant by Vivia exclusively in the Garden Lounge as a decorative element with parallel linear pendants by ALW to provide direct lighting around the perimeter.
SKYLIGHT VS. DAYLIGHT
The large surrounding windows made controls very intricate to comply with natural daylight, Title 24 code requirements, plus the functionality of the space. According to Prendergast, the management of the controls required the most coordination with the electrical engineers to ensure that the fixtures that landed on multiple zones were identified properly and controlled as needed. The lighting fixtures in multiple zones were placed on individual controls with special daylight sensors to coordinate with the daylighting from the skylight and the expansive windows.
Other lighting was placed by zones as much as possible. The control areas consisted of: Zone 1 being the closest to any window; Zone 2 provided a secondary layer of daylight control; and Zone 3 controlled areas that were in relation to the other zones in the space. For example, the conference rooms had 15-ft. runs that were perpendicular to the windows. The linear pendants landed in Zone 1, Zone 2, and Zone 3; so even though it visually looks like one continuous run, it is actually controlled in three different sections.
For its success in problem-solving and making complicated lighting schemes appear simple, the Boston Consulting Group project was awarded with both the 2017 Lumen West – Award of Excellence in Interior Design and the 2017 IES – Award of Merit in Interior Design.
Project: Boston Consulting Group West Coast Headquarters
Location: Los Angeles
Lighting Design: Oculus Light Studio – Scott Hatton, Principal; Archit Jain, Principal; Carol Prendergast, Senior Designer
Architect: Shubin & Donaldson
- 2017 Lumen West, Award of Excellence – Interior Design
- 2017 IES, Award of Merit – Interior Design