Apr 27, 2020

Art—in its many forms—takes center stage at an international talent agency’s Beverly Hills headquarters

By Rebecca Falzano

With 10 locations globally and clients like Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band and Phish, Paradigm Talent Agency is one of the entertainment industry’s top talent agencies. The company recently consolidated its three Los Angeles offices under one roof in a newly designed headquarters in Beverly Hills, a bold move that signaled the company’s shift from boutique agency to international powerhouse. Engaging the renowned architecture firm Rottet Studios, Paradigm sought to create a new West Coast headquarters that evoked collaboration, connection and transparency.

Originally built in the 1980s, the limestone-and granite-clad monolithic building lent itself to some unique challenges for the entire design team, including lighting designers Landon Roberts and Erin Erdman of eSquared Lighting Design, Redondo Beach, CA. The intent of the lighting design, according to Roberts, was threefold: to design unique, creative environments for employees and visitors while still achieving office-appropriate illuminance levels; to layer in an art-centered and Title 24 compliant flexible lighting design for a large office art collection; and to carve out unique lighting moments that were pieces of art in their own right.

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In fashioning new ways to work with the 30-year-old building, the architect’s design carved out a central stair atrium (no small feat, considering it meant cutting out 1,000 sq ft on two floors). “Rottet imagined carving through the center of the building to create a massive three-story atrium, flooding each floor with light and glass, allowing you to see and feel the creative energy and juices buzzing throughout the building,” says Roberts.

Custom continuous LED rings varying in diameter between 12 and 27 ft scribe the circumference of each circular floor cutout, mimicking daylight penetrating into the core of the building. The diffused, glare-free light output from these staggered LED rings provides code-compliant stairway illuminance levels without supplemental sources. The staircase not only serves as a connection between floors, but also provides flexible workspaces on its lower, wider flight and can be used as a place for company meetings or an impromptu music venue when combined with adjacent areas.

Because of Paradigm’s extensive art collection, which includes several commissioned pieces, the headquarters doubles as a gallery with art featured prominently throughout the building’s entire three floors. Roberts and Erdman worked in close collaboration with the architect to develop an art lighting strategy for each location that corresponded to the adjacent lighting. “LED track lighting, cove lighting, surface mounts and adjustable downlights had to live harmoniously together to cover these major art walls and maintain color consistency throughout the open floor plans, so extra attention was paid to the LED module specification for color consistency throughout the fixture vocabulary,” says Erdman. An adjustable LED track system was detailed with the contractor to provide a discreet and flexible lighting solution for extensive gallery art walls and to avoid distractions for a future project art installation on nearby wall surfaces.

In private offices, recessed linear LED fixtures break from traditional office lighting to light task surfaces, while linear wall washers highlight artwork. Private offices with seating areas are illuminated with recessed downlights to differentiate the two areas of the space. Special attention was placed on providing task-level lighting at work surfaces while being mindful of containing the light so the open office had more frame, allowing a decompression space between the desks and art walls.

In conference rooms, recessed indirect linears in straightforward lines were matched with cove lighting over perimeter tables. In open offices, designers chose sleek direct/indirect power-over-aircraft LED pendants centered over open-office desk splines to provide task illuminance supplemented by recessed adjustable LED art lighting to dramatize perimeter circulation spaces. “They disappear into the background,” says Erdman, ”allowing the eye to focus on the extensive rotating art programs on surrounding walls rather than a sea of lights and desks.”

In the café, materials shift to those you’d find in a restaurant or bar. The green soffit above the bar is indirectly illuminated with linear LEDs to highlight color and textured perimeter glass. Small-scale pendants were installed over tables, mounted at a height to allow for flexibility and not tied to specific table layouts.

Even the bathrooms make bold statements thanks to a more residential materials palette. Classic glowing omnidirectional decorative LED pendants flank backlit LED vanity mirrors with integrated side panels.

While the lighting design was largely intended to bring the company’s art collection to the forefront, occasionally the lighting itself becomes the art and takes center stage. In the main conference/ multi-purpose room, a scene-controlled knife-edge LED cove uplight was custom-designed with the architect to create a one-of-a-kind indirect lighting solution inspired by renowned light artist James Turrell. “Each cove light bend was different from the next,” says Roberts. “The intention was to blur depth perception while providing glare-free conference room light levels that would be appropriate for video conferencing and dimmable for evening events.”

Renovating an existing space brought some unique opportunities. “The existing heavy building shell and untouched interior finishes like aluminum panels and floor-to-ceiling stone walls created constant design challenges,” says Erdman. In the elevator, the existing stone surround remained. “Our strategy was to keep the elevator lobby as clean from recessed fixtures as possible,” says Erdman. The team chose continuous surface-mounted LED linear to accentuate existing wall planes and provide code-compliant elevator light levels, minimizing new ceiling lights except for adjustable LED art downlights. “We worked closely with the lighting manufacturer as we required mitered, illuminated corners,” says Roberts.

The biggest challenges, however, were the project’s accelerated 15-month schedule and budget. “Due to the urgency to finish, the construction sequence got very hectic, having finished materials in one area, adjacent to spaces that were still in rough construction,” says Roberts. With unknown art locations throughout the majority of the project until midway through construction, details were designed to conceal long lengths of track and track heads into the ceilings. The lighting designers brought in national lighting distributor Kristy Benner of Wiedenbach Brown during design development who supplied the team with vital fixture information to keep the design and budget intact. “Great care was taken in extensive fixture value engineering exercises based solely on price and lead times while not compromising overall design integrity to meet Title 24 code requirements,” says Erdman.

Thanks to project team collaboration, Paradigm employees from the music, literary, film and TV divisions—previously at three separate sites—can now collaborate together to represent the biggest names in show business under one light-and art-filled roof.