Minimalist lighting design celebrates architecture of industrial office space

Chicago's Elite Staffing, a family-owned employment services agency, spent two years searching for its new headquarters. Finally, an old industrial building, re-developed for offices, fit the bill. With 35-foot ceilings and massive skylights, the locale was the antithesis of Elite’s existing loft studio.

Charlie Greene Studio was hired to spearhead the renovation to create a collaborative, engaging, and transformative space for the Elite team.

Play Video!While the natural light is significant, it's not something one can rely upon in the heart of a Chicago winter. So Jen McCord, design director at Charlie Green Studio, partnered with Colette Wise, specification sales at KSA Lighting & Controls, to find a lighting solution that would work both in beautiful summer light and in the darkest days of winter.

“My design style is to celebrate the structure of the space and let the architecture – and lighting – be quiet,” said McCord. “I want the light, but I don’t want to see the fixture.”

Working with the high ceilings provided a challenge. There was no structure into which luminaires could be recessed. So, the goal was to find a minimalist lighting solution that disappeared into the space while providing a wide, even distribution of illumination. Gotham EVO® 4-inch pendant cylinders were selected.

“Jen and I have worked with EVO luminaires on many projects,” said Wise. “In this instance, the 4” pendant was the ideal choice for the space. Its look is clean and discreet, but the powerful lumen output and wide distribution effectively illuminate the work areas below.”

Contributing to the cylinder’s streamlined aesthetic is the pendant’s mounting hardware. A conduit cover hides the junction box and canopy, keeping the look sleek and minimal. The cylinders are mounted to metal frames that span across the ceiling's expanse.

EVO's batwing distribution with feathered edges provides even illumination on horizontal and vertical surfaces throughout the office. Because of this, the team was able to space the fixtures further apart while maintaining full coverage. Even cylinders installed over workstations, provide comfortable illumination for the employee below with wide distribution.

"The quality of light is really nice," McCord said. "You don't get glare. Even if you look directly up at the light, you're not looking at a harsh light. There is an even thread throughout the space."

Creating this light quality consistency throughout the office was a challenge, given the architecture itself. The two-story building features a mezzanine with significant natural light, while the space below has much less light. However, EVO's light quality and distribution capabilities ensure that the two floors still feel connected as you move from one level to the next.

"At some point during construction, the contractors commented that they were not sure there would be enough light," Wise said. "But we were confident that the EVO 4" luminaires were precisely what was needed to make the space shine and bring out the height of the space."

Elite Staffing is elated with the results. The team loves the design, and McCord has received many positive comments, specifically about the quality of the light.

“It’s really wonderful to see the project come to fruition so successfully," said McCord. "We spend all this time on the architecture and design, so we want to make sure that the lighting is just as important a player. If the lighting is not done well, everything else falls apart."

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Project Name: Elite Staffing

Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Interior Design: Charlie Greene Studio

Agent: KSA Lighting & Controls

Completed: 2020

Photographer: Christopher Barrett Photography

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