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04-19-21 | Feature

Lighting the Way to an Outdoor Office Experience

Von Karman Creative Campus, Irvine, California
by Alex Tutungi, Wolcott Architecture

The Von Karman Creative Campus in Irvine, California is a multi-faceted courtyard in the middle of a business center. The main feature of the campus is "The Feather," a large seating, lounging, and outside work area accented by strategically placed lighting which creates a glowing effect on the steel, feather shaped structures.
Aluminum LED pole lights measuring 10'x6" with the top 4' being frosted UV-stabilized polycarbonate diffuser with 360-degree distribution serve as a set of ambient lighting signposts across the site. The Landscape Architect added ulmus parvifolia 'true green' (chinese elm) in the middle of the space with pennisetum 'fairy tails' (evergreen fountain grass), hesperaloe parviflora (red flowered yucca), and agave americana (century plant) on the edges and outside the feature.
The architectural design of these layered benches was constructed to allow business professionals from the buildings surrounding VKCC to form pockets of collaboration between groups. The individual steel "feathers" for the structure required individual calculations to ensure lighting was applied uniformly, so the design team used LED strips that are 4000K, 3.5wpf, IP67/UL Wet exterior tape in aluminum channel with diffusion lenses. They are concealed in an architectural slot making them nearly impossible to view directly from any normal viewing angle.
The architectural design of these layered benches was constructed to allow business professionals from the buildings surrounding VKCC to form pockets of collaboration between groups. The individual steel "feathers" for the structure required individual calculations to ensure lighting was applied uniformly, so the design team used LED strips that are 4000K, 3.5wpf, IP67/UL Wet exterior tape in aluminum channel with diffusion lenses. They are concealed in an architectural slot making them nearly impossible to view directly from any normal viewing angle.
he design team added four meeting areas lit for after dark gatherings with 4000K LED strip lights mounted to the underside of the trellis structure. While totally outdoors, this pocket of space emulates a traditional conference room and the privacy it allows. A whiteboard was included at the back of the structure.
At the center of the Von Karman Creative Campus, the shape was designed to move naturally with the flow of pathways throughout the campus, creating a clear nucleus while continuing the sense of motion. The surfacing was constructed from concrete, with wood as an accent to give the structure a sense of life that would connect it with its surroundings. A darker shade of concrete contrasts with the lighter grey to tie the spaces together.
The lighting channels are embedded in a river rock trough allowing drainage. The rocks are contained in a Ipe wood and concrete setting and serve to bury the lighting strips in a subtle, organic fashion. These are the lighting fixtures that illuminate the individual feathers and entire installation at night.
This is a recreation area or "sport court" designed to be used for exercise, wellness, and other outdoor activities. The sport court utilized 20' aluminum poles with forward-throw 12,000lm 4000K area lights located at the four corners so as not to block spectator views. All lighting meets Dark Sky and FAA requirements. Two different variations of plants were added to this area. In the foreground are dianella revoluta (little rev flax lily) and in the background are tristania conferta (brisbane box), pennisetum 'fairy tails' (evergreen fountain grass), and muhlenbergia rigens (deer grass).

The Von Karman Creative Campus (VKCC) in Irvine, California was designed in a cooperative effort between landscape architecture firm Pakshong Landscape and Architecture Collaborative, and architecture and lighting design firm, Wolcott Architecture. The team approached the project with the mindset that the future of the office is more than just a communal experience: it's one that can fluidly leverage the benefits of an indoor, outdoor model. Where a movable wall that revealed access to the outside world from the cold confines of the office was once luxury, today's workforce is taking their day-to-day operations outdoors more frequently. This means the future of the workforce needs outdoor spaces that not only evoke inspiration and rest but
allow them to transition from their desk without skipping a beat functionally.

With nine buildings, divided into three parcels, and 24 acres of space, the Von Karman Creative Campus presented as many opportunities as it did challenges. It's sprawling, disjointed space made navigating the individual buildings feel more like going through a maze. The mission was to go beyond just cleaning up the space between the buildings but to turn the property into one massive, interconnected experience, with lighting playing a critical part in guiding your way.

The lighting design goal for the million-plus square-foot VKCC campus was to create an illuminated connection between buildings through a glowing pathway reinforcing the 24-hour work environment for the modern worker. Additionally, the site lies in the flight path to a major airport, so the 80+CRI, 4000K LEDs had to conform to FAA review, BUG (B2-U0-G2 per TM-15-11), Dark Sky, and Title 24 requirements while harmonizing with the landscape and hardscape.

Initial lighting sketches included visualizations of IES files modeled in the 3D architectural site plan, allowing accurate and visible illuminance diagrams prior to photometric calculations. Complicating matters the architects wanted high Kelvin but the landscape architects wanted low, so a compromise was made at 4000K., and in the end, everyone toasted success. The dusk transition glides gracefully from sunlight to electric light, as night follows day.

VKCC creates connections between buildings through a green belt that adapts to the new work environment of a creative generation. Constructed to be a multi-functional hub, the green belt encourages gatherings, serendipitous meetings, socializing, playing, and relaxing, even late into the night. To that end, lighting was buried in key areas throughout the green belt to support these pockets of creativity. The main pathway connecting the campus is an interpretation of a stream flowing and directing movement. The pathway not only acts as the main link but engages the zones designed to allow for different functions in a way that enhances engagement.

The natural elements of the pathway speak for themselves, and the approach to lighting was to build it organically into the softscape. Hidden within the lower planting, the lighting here becomes one interconnected experience with the landscape.

Dotted along the pathway were pockets meant to facilitate the 24-hour collaborative nature of VKCC. From outdoor conference rooms to eating areas, these spaces presented the challenge of continuing the uninterrupted natural experience, while requiring their own lighting solutions in order to be functional. Using natural materials like wood, detailed slots were custom built to allow for adequate lighting in these zones while keeping the lighting source inconspicuous.

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The campus center was strategically located to become the social nucleus of the campus. It is spatially defined by "the feather", a physical representation of movement and dynamic environment that is a defining characteristic. Minimizing glare, LED strips used to light the flowing "feathers" were hidden from direct view, partially buried but readily maintainable in river rock, angled to allow the emitting optic to precisely project light while keeping fixtures cool.
FaA?ade lighting employs vertical building-high LED grazers located behind architectural fins, creating a mysterious "light from within" effect. In this way, the structure itself becomes a lighting element.

With each structural "feather" featuring its own unique geometry, ensuring that the lighting solutions interacted with each individual piece evenly posed our biggest challenge. These 3D curveballs were solved by leveraging the modeling capabilities of Grasshopper a visual programming language software found within Rhinoceros 3D.

In other areas, the sports court employed forward-throw optics, allowing poles to be set well back from playing areas, advantageous both for safety and aesthetic reasons. Emergency lighting provides unimpeded illuminance from all the numerous points of egress to public right-of-way.

Once you arrived at the building of your choice, external facades illuminated by building specific lighting helped ensure you had reached the correct destination. External light colors continued once inside, creating an indoor/outdoor branded lighting experience.

The tool kit for the 24-acre, OLZ-3 site employed a limited number of high LPW and L70 fixture types. The total connected load was 64% below Title 24 allowance, and controls included motion sensors and astronomical time switches.

Team:
Landscape Architect:
Pakshong Landscape and Architecture Collaborative
Victoria Pakshong - Principal
Cathryn Widmann - Project Designer

Architect/Lighting Designer:
Wolcott Architecture
Carlos Carrasquillo - Principal
Scott Johnson - Design Principal, Lighting Designer
Robbie Mehring - Designer
Joe Ho - Project Architect

Client/Owner:
EQ Office
Brendan McCracken - SVP, Portfolio Director

Project Management:
Level Project Management
John Hartz - Project Manager

Structural Engineer: Structural Focus
Civil Engineer: DRC Engineering
Electrical Engineer: PBS Engineer

As seen in LASN magazine, April 2021.

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