Local design flourishes mingle with Jeffersonian architecture at an elite office campus
By Samantha Schwirck
Nothing about Old Parkland’s Jeffersonian architecture, museum-quality artwork or spalike amenities say “office park,” but if you look past the iron gates and ornate brick buildings, that’s exactly what Old Parkland is. “The owner’s goal was to create an office campus with a collegial feel,” says Erin Moody of studio e lighting, Dallas, who started work on the exterior lighting for Old Parkland’s newest addition, the West Campus, in 2012, and earned an IES Illumination Award of Merit for her efforts.
The West Campus joins an extensive redevelopment for the 9.5-acre property, which began in 2006 when Crow Holdings purchased the then-vacant site, built in 1894 for Dallas’s original municipal hospital. Since then, the 103-year-old Parkland Hospital building has been restored to serve as Crow Holdings’ corporate headquarters. Companies ranging from capital management firms to family businesses also call Old Parkland home.
The West Campus, completed in 2016, is comprised of three new buildings—Parkland Hall, Oak Lawn Hall and Commonwealth Hall—forming a triangle around porches, arcades and a central plaza. The buildings were designed to complement Old Parkland’s original structures, but architectural style is not the only homage to the past. As studio e illuminated Old Parkland’s West Campus, it also highlighted a collection of statues, carvings, quotes and architectural features that, in the words of Crow Holdings’ leasing manager, transform the area into “a history-quoting theme park.” Collectively titled “The American Experiment” (see sidebar), the pieces range from sculptures by Auguste Rodin to paintings, Old Parkland memorabilia, and even a torn piece of curtain believed to be grabbed by Abraham Lincoln after his fatal shooting.
On Moody’s first site visit, she took stock of how the rest of the property was illuminated and quickly understood studio e would not be following suit. “New buildings previously added to the campus have no façade lighting,” Moody explains. “The only campus lighting consisted of post-top lighting at the streets, and gas lanterns and sconces and downlights at entry porches.”
Studio e presented four different façade renderings to the owner and was surprised by its final choice. “It included quite a bit of lighting on the façade instead of a more conservative approach,” Moody says. “Overall, the idea was to highlight the vertical quality of the entries and central portions of the buildings and then layer lighting on the central dome building because it’s the most prominent in the skyline.”
Executing this vision required creative solutions for fixture mounting, especially since the project was already under construction when studio e joined the team. The West Campus’s location posed another challenge. “Two of the buildings back right up to the Dallas North Tollway, so we had to consider the light bleed onto our site and buildings and then carefully select fixture outputs on the façades,” Moody adds.
The six-story, 87,000-sq ft Parkland Hall, modeled after the Rotunda at the University of Virginia, anchors the West Campus, and sits between the smaller Commonwealth Hall and Oak Lawn Hall. The façades of all three buildings are illuminated by building-mounted linear LED wall-grazing fixtures (EcoSense), aimed so light is captured by cast-stone overhangs. “Where the fixtures are mounted on top of the cast-stone ledges, custom painted masking shields were used to conceal site lines to the fixtures,” Moody adds. At the domed Parkland Hall, the fixtures are mounted at two different levels below the base of the copper-paneled dome to wash the red-brick and cast-stone surfaces with layered light.
The same fixtures light Parkland’s spire and pediments, while the dome is illuminated by 3000K asymmetric LED uplights. “We worked closely with the manufacturer [elliptipar] to select the beam spread and output at each mounting location, and installed two mock-ups to determine the spacing of the fixtures to evenly light the dome,” Moody explains. Custom mounting enables access to junction boxes from within the building.
Dramatic custom pendants and sconces identify and highlight the buildings’ porches. Moody worked with Crow Holdings’ interior designer and lighting fabricator Iron Age Studios to design the fixtures. For Parkland Hall, 6-ft tall sconces with 2700K LED lamps were mounted on the first level’s stone façade. “These were designed with clear glass at the top to maximize the wash of light on the façade,” Moody explains. Three custom 7-ft high polished-brass pendants, also with 2700K LED lamps, complement the sconces. Another pendant, measuring nearly 10-ft high and finished in bronze, illuminates the third-level porch. “All of the fixtures utilize symbols and motifs that have meaning to the owner, Texas or America, such as eagles, acorns and oak leaves,” Moody adds.
Pendants continue in the arcades connecting the three buildings, with designs corresponding to arches. “Each light is centered within an arch and was scaled to the height of the porch and arch opening,” Moody says. Wide-beam-optic 3000K recessed downlights (Edison Price Lighting) fill spaces between pendants.
On all porches, surface-mounted adjustable LED accents illuminate three different bronze sculptures; adjustable downlights were aimed to wash the back walls and illuminate the front stairs; and recessed downlights gently silhouette columns. “On the side of the buildings that face downtown Dallas, we used 2-ft long asymmetric fixtures to uplight the columns, as opposed to having the columns in silhouette,” Moody explains. “We also used slightly higher output fixtures on the façades that face the city because of the adjacent ambient lighting.”
Gas sconces on each side of entry doors at Oak Lawn and Commonwealth Hall, as well as gas post-top fixtures in the central plaza, ease the transition from the rest of campus to the new addition. “The owner really likes gas lighting and the ambiance that it adds,” Moody says. “The post top lights were originally used on other portions of the campus so this same style pole leads from the existing campus down into the plaza.”
Ground-mounted LED uplights (Kim Lighting) illuminate trees throughout the plaza, but the scene remains subtle. “The uplights only occur at certain trees, and a handful of trees are wrapped in twinkle Christmas lights,” Moody says. “I think the most cutting edge thing about this project is that sometimes showing restraint is the best approach,” she adds. “Not every element has to have specialty lighting. Except for the custom decorative lighting, we used standard fixtures.”