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Designed by New York-based Pei Partnership Architects, the building introduces an important new concept in Asian architecture: a combination of traditional Chinese elements with an inspired brand of corporate modernism. As they went about combining an office building with a civic institution, the architects infused a spirit of openness to the project. The core of the structure is designed for year-round public enjoyment and contains the essence of a traditional Chinese garden, an artistic interpretation of the natural world. Plus, an overall flexibility in design will help the bank and its tenants meet the ever-changing technological demands of 21st century business.
The architect and lighting designer trusted U.S.-based Lutron Electronics to handle the complex lighting demands of this architecturally and culturally significant project. They chose a Lutron GRAFIK 6000 light control system to meet present and future lighting challenges and to create that traditional garden feel. They also chose a Lutron HomeWorks system to switch more than 13,500 sq. meters of office space. These two control systems are easy-to-use, one of the key requirements in choosing a system, and are virtually transparent through automation of controlled lighting scenes. And they don’t just enhance the architecture; they save energy, too.
On the upper floors, the HomeWorks system allows software control of timeclocks and occupancy sensors for more than 1,300 circuits. The 158,000 sq. meter building comprises two L-shaped wings, which embrace a 45 meter-high garden atrium. The building also houses a monumental banking hall, 2,000-seat auditorium, reception hall, executive offices, as well as parking, dining, and other services for more than 2,500 employees. Public areas maximize open space, clean lines, and daylight, and the building is clad, inside and out, in warm travertine stone.
By directly lighting some of the more important walls— the walls opposite the soaring glass curtain wall and the walls on either side of the entrance—they are able to draw visitors from the outside across the open atrium to the elevator banks and other access areas.
The magnificent atrium forms the functional and symbolic core of the building, where water, rocks, and plants represent the traditional Chinese garden. Overhead, inconspicuous clusters of PAR56 light sources light the atrium floor and banking halls. These downlights virtually disappear among the trusswork of the vast pyramidal, clear-glass skylight. The 10-meter bicycle-wheel chandelier, which hangs above an oculus in the floor of the upper banking hall, holds tiny MR16 lamps. Above, 1000W PAR64s shine down through the chandelier, making the cables sparkle and illuminating through the oculus to the banking hall below.
With the scale of the space, long distances for throwing light, and energy and maintenance concerns, halogen sources may not have seemed the most logical choice.
In addition, time-of-day dimming conserves energy and extends lamp life by reducing burning hours. “There’s so much daylight coming through the skylight, the lights don’t need to be on all the time,” said Kugler.
Plus, Lutron systems are installed in buildings all over the world so they are designed to withstand power quality problems, which can vary from country to country and are not unheard of in Beijing. The Lutron patented RTISS™ (Real Time Illumination Stability System) design enhancement filters out line noise to dimmers to ensure consistent, high quality, dimming performance. Plus, the flexibility of the GRAFIK 6000 system allows for local control, including override of universal presets — such as timeclock-initiated shutoff sweeps. This is especially useful in the executive offices and auditorium, which have multi-button wallstations.
The system’s automated switching of entire floors of fluorescent lighting saves vast energy costs for Bank of China and its tenants. By illuminating spaces only when occupied, lamp life is extended, saving maintenance costs. The system’s centralized control allows any load on the system to be switched from any one of the more than 600 keypads or wallstations. Each relay is addressed individually, which allows for extremely flexible zone assignments. Of course, overrides are available at all the wallstations, permitting anyone working late to illuminate their workspace or a path of exit.
“Lutron provided support, reliability, and a great team effort,” said Kugler. “I have years of experience with them, and I knew they would support a client halfway around the world. And they have.”