Lighting your space (Alex Hillman?)

Hey all, my landlord is asking for a lighting plan so he can get a sense of budget for the buildout…but this is not my forte. What kind of lights do you guys use in a) open work areas and b) private offices? Currently there are a ton of track lights installed (it’s a former gallery space) but from what I’ve read those can cast unpleasant shadows.

(Alex, I put you in the subject because I think you worked on this for Indy Hall, although I didn’t find any previous posts about. My apologies if I’m wrong.)

Thanks!

Jen Luby

Dayhouse Coworking

Highland Park, IL

Oh boy, did we ever do a lot of research.

After flooring, electrical was our second biggest expense in our 2016 fit out and lighting was a large and ridiculously painful part that I was determined to get right. We goofed on a few things in round 1, and got right in round 2😅

But I learned a ton about fixtures, lighting design, how to work with electrical engineers (ugh), why most office lighting sucks, and how to get the best prices.

I'll pull together my notes and product links and lessons learned shortly.

And very good news: those tracks can be made awesome, and max flexible. Do you know what kind of connectors they are compatible with?

Alex

···

On Feb 28, 2018, 6:29 PM -0500, Jen Luby <[email protected]>, wrote:

Hey all, my landlord is asking for a lighting plan so he can get a sense of budget for the buildout...but this is not my forte. What kind of lights do you guys use in a) open work areas and b) private offices? Currently there are a ton of track lights installed (it's a former gallery space) but from what I've read those can cast unpleasant shadows.

(Alex, I put you in the subject because I think you worked on this for Indy Hall, although I didn't find any previous posts about. My apologies if I'm wrong.)

Thanks!
Jen Luby

Dayhouse Coworking
Highland Park, IL
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Jen - it'd also help to get an idea of what you're working with. Can you post a floorplan? Even better, a plan that shows where existing lights are?

···

On Feb 28, 2018, 6:29 PM -0500, Jen Luby <[email protected]>, wrote:

Hey all, my landlord is asking for a lighting plan so he can get a sense of budget for the buildout...but this is not my forte. What kind of lights do you guys use in a) open work areas and b) private offices? Currently there are a ton of track lights installed (it's a former gallery space) but from what I've read those can cast unpleasant shadows.

(Alex, I put you in the subject because I think you worked on this for Indy Hall, although I didn't find any previous posts about. My apologies if I'm wrong.)

Thanks!
Jen Luby

Dayhouse Coworking
Highland Park, IL
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Alrighty, here goes. This is going to cover a lot of what I learned, and how we got lighting results we’re really happy with.

Again, it’s basically impossible to give direct advice on how YOU should budget without seeing the floorplans and even photos of the space itself.

But here’s what we did:

These numbers are rough, but if I reverse engineer our lighting budget from the overall project fit-out…

  • We spent ~$7.50 per square foot on all of our electrical work, which was almost entirely brand new (new wiring, power sockets, breaker panels, lighting fixtures, switches…everything with power running through it was basically brand new.

  • Approx 25% of the electrical budget was lighting fixtures*.* That included tracks + LED track heads as our primary light source, accent lighting, and special fixtures for inside our meeting rooms. So roughly $1.80/square foot on light fixtures alone (this doesn’t include installation, wiring, switches, etc). YMMV, of course, but stacking this number against other lighting upgrade projects I’ve seen and done…it seems about right, plus/minus 10%.

*Keep in mind, that’s with all LED fixtures, which are often appear 2-3x more $$$ up front but save a boatload in energy costs and you basically never need to buy another bulb (which, in our old space, we spent several hundred dollars a year on replacement bulbs for various non LED fixtures). *

Now, I had a really hard time getting useful advice from folks who had lots of experience with lighting for “traditional” offices. It seems like lighting design for workspaces tends to be based around two assumptions:

1 - brighter is always better

2 - desks and workspaces are bolted down and won’t ever change location

As a result, I kept noticing lighting design that was both inflexible, and gave off what I can only describe as “office vibes.” I’d never light my home the way these offices are lit. Our goal is always to create spaces that feel as comfortable as working from home…but are more productive.

The best design advice I got was from someone whose primary experience wasn’t office lighting design…but theater lighting design. He was someone who really thought about how lighting impacts moods, how people move through space, etc. He also had a lot of experience adapting this knowledge to creative lighting installations, etc. He totally understood what I was trying to achieve in terms of a lighting experience and that we still needed lighting that would be good for working under.

On the downside…he ended up being a pretty shitty, unreliable business person, so I can’t confidently recommend him. But his lighting advice was really good. :slight_smile:

To maximize flexibility, the bulk of our primary lighting source are a standard (white, in our case) 3 wire “h-style” track system, which we laid out like this. The diagram is a little tough to understand at if you don’t know what you’re looking at, and there’s one important piece that’s missing entirely, so here’s the gist of our strategy:

  • We wanted to make it easy to turn all of the primary lights on/off without having to walk across the entire space (our old location had lights all over the place, turning them all on/off took a solid 5 mins of walking around the space).

  • We broke the tracks into “clusters” that would light each of the primary work areas, and allow us to flexibly move the track heads around

  • EVERYTHING ON DIMMERS. Some people like working in low light. Others like it bright. Give yourself options.

  • We used clusters of 3-5 white frosted glass pendant lights as “accent” lighting in corners and other areas that were likely to be cozy little lounge or breakout areas, like this.

  • We found this incredible fixture for inside our meeting rooms, phone rooms, really any room that was going to have a closed door on it. It’s sleek, throws really nice light in all directions, and is easy to mount either nearly flush with a ceiling or, if you have the height to support it, suspended at a comfortable height. We get a ton of compliments on these fixtures. They’re also only ~$120 US a piece. The only downside (and it’s a big one) is you have to order them in minimum of 10 units, and they’re coming directly from a supplier in China so it’s going to take a few weeks minimum AND shipping can get expensive. Thankfully, I was ordering enough (and early enough) to make it worthwhile.

  • Our original fit out used a direct-from-china track head as well, and I like them just fine, but when we expanded we couldn’t get more of the fixtures so I had to look elsewhere and ended up finding a great dimmable LED track fixture that, even with domestic shipping, cut our per-fixture cost *in half (*from ~$60/head to around $30).

  • When choosing color temperatures, I tried to get fixtures that were on the cool end of warm, more like residential bulbs. 3000k-3500k tended to give the best color, more feeling like natural sunlight without being too “glowy.” 4k seems to be more “popular” in office settings but in our tests it always felt too cold and sharp. At the same time, I learned that these numbers aren’t super consistent across manufacturers. When possible, try to get sample fixtures and test them in the real setting, mixed with whatever natural light you’re working with.

**The big thing that’s not obvious about the lighting plan is that over half of our tracks are actually turned *upside down, *and point the fixture at the ceiling. **

Originally, we installed all of our track heads the way you’re used to seeing them: pointed down and at an angle. The trouble we hadn’t calculated was how often a light would end up pointed directly in somebody’s face. We tried tweaking track positions, but avoiding one person’s eyes almost always meant pointing them into someone else’s eyes.

*The other problem was that - and this might sound obvious but bear with me - lights work best when they have something to reflect off of. *

The “shadow” problems you mentioned are a symptom of direct lighting, something we generally were trying to avoid because it’s harsh (especially with glossy computer screens). We wanted the space to appear bright, but without work areas (desks, etc) feeling like they were under a spotlight.

We tried filters and gels, too, but the most effective technique was to make sure that our track fixtures were directed at a nearby surface: a wall, a column, a beam, ductwork…any surface that would help distribute the light to the surrounding areas. Like this example, in our gallery space. By pointing fixtures at the walls, the surrounding areas are cast in a very comfortable indirect light. That seems to be the key.

The trouble we ran into with our space was that in so much of our space, the “walls” are just our windows to the outside world. They’re great for letting natural light in, but pointing lights at them was horrible. They’d just shine the direct light back into someone’s eyes, and do very little to actually light the space.

So in the rest of the space, we decided to flip the tracks upside down so we could point the fixtures at our ceiling. Like this.

By treating our ceiling like another wall (we’d already painted it a bright color to reflect the natural light), and now we’re able to get the same general effect of LOTS of bright but soft, indirect lighting covering almost every area of workspace. Nobody has to work under a spotlight. Success.

When we expanded our space in October, we took the same approach of flipping the tracks from the start. The electricians looked at us a little funny when I asked for it, but after it was in even they commented how nice it looked.

Whew. That’s a lot, and kind of all over the place. But hopefully it helps you think through the decisions you need to make, which will include:

1 - how to light for experience, not just function

2 - how to “layer” different fixtures to help indicate zones and uses

3 - making use of your existing tracks (or adding more of them to give you max flexibility)

4 - choosing fixtures, and finding ways to save $$

5 - using your constraints

If I can help more one-on-one, feel free to shoot me an email. :slight_smile:

-Alex

···

On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 6:41 PM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

Jen - it’d also help to get an idea of what you’re working with. Can you post a floorplan? Even better, a plan that shows where existing lights are?

On Feb 28, 2018, 6:29 PM -0500, Jen Luby [email protected], wrote:

Hey all, my landlord is asking for a lighting plan so he can get a sense of budget for the buildout…but this is not my forte. What kind of lights do you guys use in a) open work areas and b) private offices? Currently there are a ton of track lights installed (it’s a former gallery space) but from what I’ve read those can cast unpleasant shadows.

(Alex, I put you in the subject because I think you worked on this for Indy Hall, although I didn’t find any previous posts about. My apologies if I’m wrong.)

Thanks!

Jen Luby

Dayhouse Coworking

Highland Park, IL

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

+7 on the track lighting hack. I REALLY hate track lighting because it’s always beaming into my brain. We used a version of track lighting at Bandwidth and immediately turned all the bulbs to face up and out towards the walls. It’s such a great method to get lots of light reflecting off of stuff without it searing your retinas.

···

On Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 4:29:01 PM UTC-7, Jen Luby wrote:

Hey all, my landlord is asking for a lighting plan so he can get a sense of budget for the buildout…but this is not my forte. What kind of lights do you guys use in a) open work areas and b) private offices? Currently there are a ton of track lights installed (it’s a former gallery space) but from what I’ve read those can cast unpleasant shadows.

(Alex, I put you in the subject because I think you worked on this for Indy Hall, although I didn’t find any previous posts about. My apologies if I’m wrong.)

Thanks!

Jen Luby

Dayhouse Coworking

Highland Park, IL

Alex, this is incredibly helpful. Thank you! I'm going to take it back to
my interior designer and see what she can do...

Jen

···

On Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 5:36:08 PM UTC-6, Alex Hillman wrote:

Oh boy, did we ever do a lot of research.

After flooring, electrical was our second biggest expense in our 2016 fit
out and lighting was a large and ridiculously painful part that I was
determined to get right. We goofed on a few things in round 1, and got
right in round 2😅

But I learned a ton about fixtures, lighting design, how to work with
electrical engineers (ugh), why most office lighting sucks, and how to get
the best prices.

I'll pull together my notes and product links and lessons learned shortly.

And very good news: those tracks can be made awesome, and max flexible. Do
you know what kind of connectors they are compatible with?

Alex

On Feb 28, 2018, 6:29 PM -0500, Jen Luby <[email protected] <javascript:>>, > wrote:

Hey all, my landlord is asking for a lighting plan so he can get a sense
of budget for the buildout...but this is not my forte. What kind of lights
do you guys use in a) open work areas and b) private offices? Currently
there are a ton of track lights installed (it's a former gallery space) but
from what I've read those can cast unpleasant shadows.

(Alex, I put you in the subject because I think you worked on this for
Indy Hall, although I didn't find any previous posts about. My apologies if
I'm wrong.)

Thanks!
Jen Luby

Dayhouse Coworking
Highland Park, IL

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups
"Coworking" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an
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That’s excellent Alex!

In our case we were retrofitting space that had dark walls, dark ceilings, and officy flourescents. We kept the 4k flourescents (converted to LED equivalents), painted the walls a lighter color, then added tracklighting all around the space pointing at the walls, and added a few handmade cylindrical fabric accent lights. All of the accent and track lights are on dimmers. Before we had the tracklights, we used strings of $5 clamp on lights in the ceiling. For events in the evening we turn off the “officy” lights and leave on the accent and track lights:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByG3cwY06mlNWm1xZkVJUmhrb00/view?usp=sharing

And since everything is LED now, we leave some of the accent and track lights on at night:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByG3cwY06mlNcTU4RElRY3d3b1E/view?usp=sharing

Liz Trice

www.PelotonLabs.com

Hi.

Another alternative is to use fluorescent lights, or their LED equivalents, as Liz mentioned. I find them quite good to provide a general, “ambient” light for the entire office. I had assumed that track lights would cause some hot/cold spots, but it seems that even if they were to do so, some people still prefer them in an office space setting.

It’s creative to point these track lights against a wall or ceiling, making them indirect lighting. However, I wonder if that effectively makes them perform inefficiently…which then leads me back to fluorescent lights that point down, but in an ambient not-hot/cold way.

Different people do respond differently with 3500-4200K lights (btw, K = Kelvin temperature), so it can be hit/miss. Above this range are usually for clinical/hospital or warehouse environments; below for intimate, residential or hospitality environments.

Another spec to notice is CRI, which is color rendering index. Basically, anything higher than 90 will allow you to see an object in its true color. Sometimes you can have the right Kelvin temp, but a bad CRI…no good.

I’ve found LED lights range from about $150-$300+ for 4-foot length fixtures. If you get an 8’ length, you’ll spend less $ per lineal foot.

As for designing lights in the office to be as comfortable as at home, I do want to clarify the reason that office lights are typically “whiter” than at home, which are typically “yellower,” is that you’re usually at home in the early part of the day, or evenings, both of which the sun is more yellow. You also associate homes during these times more for relaxing. Offices are usually occupied in the daytime and for work, hence the brighter and often whiter lighting. No choices are actually wrong - it can often be a matter of personal taste.

For proof that fluorescent lights can look good, see here: https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157627309965154

In this case, I mixed daylight and fluorescents. Also, this space was designed before Title 24 regulations required LED’s.

Finally, some might read these posts and interpret that LED’s are optional - it’s a good point that they’re worth the upfront costs to avoid any future operating/replacement costs. BUT, in some areas like California, they’re required to comply to Title 24 regulations, not optional, for nearly all cases. FYI.

Jerome Chang

Architect, founder

www.BLANKSPACES.com

···

On Mar 1, 2018, at 10:55 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

Alrighty, here goes. This is going to cover a lot of what I learned, and how we got lighting results we’re really happy with.

Again, it’s basically impossible to give direct advice on how YOU should budget without seeing the floorplans and even photos of the space itself.

But here’s what we did:

These numbers are rough, but if I reverse engineer our lighting budget from the overall project fit-out…

  • We spent ~$7.50 per square foot on all of our electrical work, which was almost entirely brand new (new wiring, power sockets, breaker panels, lighting fixtures, switches…everything with power running through it was basically brand new.
  • Approx 25% of the electrical budget was lighting fixtures*.* That included tracks + LED track heads as our primary light source, accent lighting, and special fixtures for inside our meeting rooms. So roughly $1.80/square foot on light fixtures alone (this doesn’t include installation, wiring, switches, etc). YMMV, of course, but stacking this number against other lighting upgrade projects I’ve seen and done…it seems about right, plus/minus 10%.

*Keep in mind, that’s with all LED fixtures, which are often appear 2-3x more $$$ up front but save a boatload in energy costs and you basically never need to buy another bulb (which, in our old space, we spent several hundred dollars a year on replacement bulbs for various non LED fixtures). *

Now, I had a really hard time getting useful advice from folks who had lots of experience with lighting for “traditional” offices. It seems like lighting design for workspaces tends to be based around two assumptions:

1 - brighter is always better

2 - desks and workspaces are bolted down and won’t ever change location

As a result, I kept noticing lighting design that was both inflexible, and gave off what I can only describe as “office vibes.” I’d never light my home the way these offices are lit. Our goal is always to create spaces that feel as comfortable as working from home…but are more productive.

The best design advice I got was from someone whose primary experience wasn’t office lighting design…but theater lighting design. He was someone who really thought about how lighting impacts moods, how people move through space, etc. He also had a lot of experience adapting this knowledge to creative lighting installations, etc. He totally understood what I was trying to achieve in terms of a lighting experience and that we still needed lighting that would be good for working under.

On the downside…he ended up being a pretty shitty, unreliable business person, so I can’t confidently recommend him. But his lighting advice was really good. :slight_smile:

To maximize flexibility, the bulk of our primary lighting source are a standard (white, in our case) 3 wire “h-style” track system, which we laid out like this. The diagram is a little tough to understand at if you don’t know what you’re looking at, and there’s one important piece that’s missing entirely, so here’s the gist of our strategy:

  • We wanted to make it easy to turn all of the primary lights on/off without having to walk across the entire space (our old location had lights all over the place, turning them all on/off took a solid 5 mins of walking around the space).
  • We broke the tracks into “clusters” that would light each of the primary work areas, and allow us to flexibly move the track heads around
  • EVERYTHING ON DIMMERS. Some people like working in low light. Others like it bright. Give yourself options.
  • We used clusters of 3-5 white frosted glass pendant lights as “accent” lighting in corners and other areas that were likely to be cozy little lounge or breakout areas, like this.
  • We found this incredible fixture for inside our meeting rooms, phone rooms, really any room that was going to have a closed door on it. It’s sleek, throws really nice light in all directions, and is easy to mount either nearly flush with a ceiling or, if you have the height to support it, suspended at a comfortable height. We get a ton of compliments on these fixtures. They’re also only ~$120 US a piece. The only downside (and it’s a big one) is you have to order them in minimum of 10 units, and they’re coming directly from a supplier in China so it’s going to take a few weeks minimum AND shipping can get expensive. Thankfully, I was ordering enough (and early enough) to make it worthwhile.
  • Our original fit out used a direct-from-china track head as well, and I like them just fine, but when we expanded we couldn’t get more of the fixtures so I had to look elsewhere and ended up finding a great dimmable LED track fixture that, even with domestic shipping, cut our per-fixture cost *in half (*from ~$60/head to around $30).
  • When choosing color temperatures, I tried to get fixtures that were on the cool end of warm, more like residential bulbs. 3000k-3500k tended to give the best color, more feeling like natural sunlight without being too “glowy.” 4k seems to be more “popular” in office settings but in our tests it always felt too cold and sharp. At the same time, I learned that these numbers aren’t super consistent across manufacturers. When possible, try to get sample fixtures and test them in the real setting, mixed with whatever natural light you’re working with.

**The big thing that’s not obvious about the lighting plan is that over half of our tracks are actually turned *upside down, *and point the fixture at the ceiling. **

Originally, we installed all of our track heads the way you’re used to seeing them: pointed down and at an angle. The trouble we hadn’t calculated was how often a light would end up pointed directly in somebody’s face. We tried tweaking track positions, but avoiding one person’s eyes almost always meant pointing them into someone else’s eyes.

*The other problem was that - and this might sound obvious but bear with me - lights work best when they have something to reflect off of. *

The “shadow” problems you mentioned are a symptom of direct lighting, something we generally were trying to avoid because it’s harsh (especially with glossy computer screens). We wanted the space to appear bright, but without work areas (desks, etc) feeling like they were under a spotlight.

We tried filters and gels, too, but the most effective technique was to make sure that our track fixtures were directed at a nearby surface: a wall, a column, a beam, ductwork…any surface that would help distribute the light to the surrounding areas. Like this example, in our gallery space. By pointing fixtures at the walls, the surrounding areas are cast in a very comfortable indirect light. That seems to be the key.

The trouble we ran into with our space was that in so much of our space, the “walls” are just our windows to the outside world. They’re great for letting natural light in, but pointing lights at them was horrible. They’d just shine the direct light back into someone’s eyes, and do very little to actually light the space.

So in the rest of the space, we decided to flip the tracks upside down so we could point the fixtures at our ceiling. Like this.

By treating our ceiling like another wall (we’d already painted it a bright color to reflect the natural light), and now we’re able to get the same general effect of LOTS of bright but soft, indirect lighting covering almost every area of workspace. Nobody has to work under a spotlight. Success.

When we expanded our space in October, we took the same approach of flipping the tracks from the start. The electricians looked at us a little funny when I asked for it, but after it was in even they commented how nice it looked.

Whew. That’s a lot, and kind of all over the place. But hopefully it helps you think through the decisions you need to make, which will include:

1 - how to light for experience, not just function

2 - how to “layer” different fixtures to help indicate zones and uses

3 - making use of your existing tracks (or adding more of them to give you max flexibility)

4 - choosing fixtures, and finding ways to save $$

5 - using your constraints

If I can help more one-on-one, feel free to shoot me an email. :slight_smile:

-Alex


The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 6:41 PM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

Jen - it’d also help to get an idea of what you’re working with. Can you post a floorplan? Even better, a plan that shows where existing lights are?

On Feb 28, 2018, 6:29 PM -0500, Jen Luby [email protected], wrote:

Hey all, my landlord is asking for a lighting plan so he can get a sense of budget for the buildout…but this is not my forte. What kind of lights do you guys use in a) open work areas and b) private offices? Currently there are a ton of track lights installed (it’s a former gallery space) but from what I’ve read those can cast unpleasant shadows.

(Alex, I put you in the subject because I think you worked on this for Indy Hall, although I didn’t find any previous posts about. My apologies if I’m wrong.)

Thanks!

Jen Luby

Dayhouse Coworking

Highland Park, IL

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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A follow up question: How much did you guys spend, and how big is your space?

···

On Sat, Mar 3, 2018 at 11:03 AM, Jerome Chang [email protected] wrote:

Hi.

Another alternative is to use fluorescent lights, or their LED equivalents, as Liz mentioned. I find them quite good to provide a general, “ambient” light for the entire office. I had assumed that track lights would cause some hot/cold spots, but it seems that even if they were to do so, some people still prefer them in an office space setting.

It’s creative to point these track lights against a wall or ceiling, making them indirect lighting. However, I wonder if that effectively makes them perform inefficiently…which then leads me back to fluorescent lights that point down, but in an ambient not-hot/cold way.

Different people do respond differently with 3500-4200K lights (btw, K = Kelvin temperature), so it can be hit/miss. Above this range are usually for clinical/hospital or warehouse environments; below for intimate, residential or hospitality environments.

Another spec to notice is CRI, which is color rendering index. Basically, anything higher than 90 will allow you to see an object in its true color. Sometimes you can have the right Kelvin temp, but a bad CRI…no good.

I’ve found LED lights range from about $150-$300+ for 4-foot length fixtures. If you get an 8’ length, you’ll spend less $ per lineal foot.

As for designing lights in the office to be as comfortable as at home, I do want to clarify the reason that office lights are typically “whiter” than at home, which are typically “yellower,” is that you’re usually at home in the early part of the day, or evenings, both of which the sun is more yellow. You also associate homes during these times more for relaxing. Offices are usually occupied in the daytime and for work, hence the brighter and often whiter lighting. No choices are actually wrong - it can often be a matter of personal taste.

For proof that fluorescent lights can look good, see here: https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157627309965154

In this case, I mixed daylight and fluorescents. Also, this space was designed before Title 24 regulations required LED’s.

Finally, some might read these posts and interpret that LED’s are optional - it’s a good point that they’re worth the upfront costs to avoid any future operating/replacement costs. BUT, in some areas like California, they’re required to comply to Title 24 regulations, not optional, for nearly all cases. FYI.

Jerome Chang

Architect, founder

www.BLANKSPACES.com

On Mar 1, 2018, at 10:55 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

Alrighty, here goes. This is going to cover a lot of what I learned, and how we got lighting results we’re really happy with.

Again, it’s basically impossible to give direct advice on how YOU should budget without seeing the floorplans and even photos of the space itself.

But here’s what we did:

These numbers are rough, but if I reverse engineer our lighting budget from the overall project fit-out…

  • We spent ~$7.50 per square foot on all of our electrical work, which was almost entirely brand new (new wiring, power sockets, breaker panels, lighting fixtures, switches…everything with power running through it was basically brand new.
  • Approx 25% of the electrical budget was lighting fixtures*.* That included tracks + LED track heads as our primary light source, accent lighting, and special fixtures for inside our meeting rooms. So roughly $1.80/square foot on light fixtures alone (this doesn’t include installation, wiring, switches, etc). YMMV, of course, but stacking this number against other lighting upgrade projects I’ve seen and done…it seems about right, plus/minus 10%.

*Keep in mind, that’s with all LED fixtures, which are often appear 2-3x more $$$ up front but save a boatload in energy costs and you basically never need to buy another bulb (which, in our old space, we spent several hundred dollars a year on replacement bulbs for various non LED fixtures). *

Now, I had a really hard time getting useful advice from folks who had lots of experience with lighting for “traditional” offices. It seems like lighting design for workspaces tends to be based around two assumptions:

1 - brighter is always better

2 - desks and workspaces are bolted down and won’t ever change location

As a result, I kept noticing lighting design that was both inflexible, and gave off what I can only describe as “office vibes.” I’d never light my home the way these offices are lit. Our goal is always to create spaces that feel as comfortable as working from home…but are more productive.

The best design advice I got was from someone whose primary experience wasn’t office lighting design…but theater lighting design. He was someone who really thought about how lighting impacts moods, how people move through space, etc. He also had a lot of experience adapting this knowledge to creative lighting installations, etc. He totally understood what I was trying to achieve in terms of a lighting experience and that we still needed lighting that would be good for working under.

On the downside…he ended up being a pretty shitty, unreliable business person, so I can’t confidently recommend him. But his lighting advice was really good. :slight_smile:

To maximize flexibility, the bulk of our primary lighting source are a standard (white, in our case) 3 wire “h-style” track system, which we laid out like this. The diagram is a little tough to understand at if you don’t know what you’re looking at, and there’s one important piece that’s missing entirely, so here’s the gist of our strategy:

  • We wanted to make it easy to turn all of the primary lights on/off without having to walk across the entire space (our old location had lights all over the place, turning them all on/off took a solid 5 mins of walking around the space).
  • We broke the tracks into “clusters” that would light each of the primary work areas, and allow us to flexibly move the track heads around
  • EVERYTHING ON DIMMERS. Some people like working in low light. Others like it bright. Give yourself options.
  • We used clusters of 3-5 white frosted glass pendant lights as “accent” lighting in corners and other areas that were likely to be cozy little lounge or breakout areas, like this.
  • We found this incredible fixture for inside our meeting rooms, phone rooms, really any room that was going to have a closed door on it. It’s sleek, throws really nice light in all directions, and is easy to mount either nearly flush with a ceiling or, if you have the height to support it, suspended at a comfortable height. We get a ton of compliments on these fixtures. They’re also only ~$120 US a piece. The only downside (and it’s a big one) is you have to order them in minimum of 10 units, and they’re coming directly from a supplier in China so it’s going to take a few weeks minimum AND shipping can get expensive. Thankfully, I was ordering enough (and early enough) to make it worthwhile.
  • Our original fit out used a direct-from-china track head as well, and I like them just fine, but when we expanded we couldn’t get more of the fixtures so I had to look elsewhere and ended up finding a great dimmable LED track fixture that, even with domestic shipping, cut our per-fixture cost *in half (*from ~$60/head to around $30).
  • When choosing color temperatures, I tried to get fixtures that were on the cool end of warm, more like residential bulbs. 3000k-3500k tended to give the best color, more feeling like natural sunlight without being too “glowy.” 4k seems to be more “popular” in office settings but in our tests it always felt too cold and sharp. At the same time, I learned that these numbers aren’t super consistent across manufacturers. When possible, try to get sample fixtures and test them in the real setting, mixed with whatever natural light you’re working with.

**The big thing that’s not obvious about the lighting plan is that over half of our tracks are actually turned *upside down, *and point the fixture at the ceiling. **

Originally, we installed all of our track heads the way you’re used to seeing them: pointed down and at an angle. The trouble we hadn’t calculated was how often a light would end up pointed directly in somebody’s face. We tried tweaking track positions, but avoiding one person’s eyes almost always meant pointing them into someone else’s eyes.

*The other problem was that - and this might sound obvious but bear with me - lights work best when they have something to reflect off of. *

The “shadow” problems you mentioned are a symptom of direct lighting, something we generally were trying to avoid because it’s harsh (especially with glossy computer screens). We wanted the space to appear bright, but without work areas (desks, etc) feeling like they were under a spotlight.

We tried filters and gels, too, but the most effective technique was to make sure that our track fixtures were directed at a nearby surface: a wall, a column, a beam, ductwork…any surface that would help distribute the light to the surrounding areas. Like this example, in our gallery space. By pointing fixtures at the walls, the surrounding areas are cast in a very comfortable indirect light. That seems to be the key.

The trouble we ran into with our space was that in so much of our space, the “walls” are just our windows to the outside world. They’re great for letting natural light in, but pointing lights at them was horrible. They’d just shine the direct light back into someone’s eyes, and do very little to actually light the space.

So in the rest of the space, we decided to flip the tracks upside down so we could point the fixtures at our ceiling. Like this.

By treating our ceiling like another wall (we’d already painted it a bright color to reflect the natural light), and now we’re able to get the same general effect of LOTS of bright but soft, indirect lighting covering almost every area of workspace. Nobody has to work under a spotlight. Success.

When we expanded our space in October, we took the same approach of flipping the tracks from the start. The electricians looked at us a little funny when I asked for it, but after it was in even they commented how nice it looked.

Whew. That’s a lot, and kind of all over the place. But hopefully it helps you think through the decisions you need to make, which will include:

1 - how to light for experience, not just function

2 - how to “layer” different fixtures to help indicate zones and uses

3 - making use of your existing tracks (or adding more of them to give you max flexibility)

4 - choosing fixtures, and finding ways to save $$

5 - using your constraints

If I can help more one-on-one, feel free to shoot me an email. :slight_smile:

-Alex

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The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 6:41 PM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

Jen - it’d also help to get an idea of what you’re working with. Can you post a floorplan? Even better, a plan that shows where existing lights are?

On Feb 28, 2018, 6:29 PM -0500, Jen Luby [email protected], wrote:

Hey all, my landlord is asking for a lighting plan so he can get a sense of budget for the buildout…but this is not my forte. What kind of lights do you guys use in a) open work areas and b) private offices? Currently there are a ton of track lights installed (it’s a former gallery space) but from what I’ve read those can cast unpleasant shadows.

(Alex, I put you in the subject because I think you worked on this for Indy Hall, although I didn’t find any previous posts about. My apologies if I’m wrong.)

Thanks!

Jen Luby

Dayhouse Coworking

Highland Park, IL

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Jennifer Dunham Luby
[email protected]
c: 847.207.0358

Hi. Is that “spend” question to me or…?

Jerome

···

On Mar 5, 2018, at 8:32 AM, Jen Luby [email protected] wrote:

A follow up question: How much did you guys spend, and how big is your space?

On Sat, Mar 3, 2018 at 11:03 AM, Jerome Chang [email protected] wrote:

Hi.

Another alternative is to use fluorescent lights, or their LED equivalents, as Liz mentioned. I find them quite good to provide a general, “ambient” light for the entire office. I had assumed that track lights would cause some hot/cold spots, but it seems that even if they were to do so, some people still prefer them in an office space setting.

It’s creative to point these track lights against a wall or ceiling, making them indirect lighting. However, I wonder if that effectively makes them perform inefficiently…which then leads me back to fluorescent lights that point down, but in an ambient not-hot/cold way.

Different people do respond differently with 3500-4200K lights (btw, K = Kelvin temperature), so it can be hit/miss. Above this range are usually for clinical/hospital or warehouse environments; below for intimate, residential or hospitality environments.

Another spec to notice is CRI, which is color rendering index. Basically, anything higher than 90 will allow you to see an object in its true color. Sometimes you can have the right Kelvin temp, but a bad CRI…no good.

I’ve found LED lights range from about $150-$300+ for 4-foot length fixtures. If you get an 8’ length, you’ll spend less $ per lineal foot.

As for designing lights in the office to be as comfortable as at home, I do want to clarify the reason that office lights are typically “whiter” than at home, which are typically “yellower,” is that you’re usually at home in the early part of the day, or evenings, both of which the sun is more yellow. You also associate homes during these times more for relaxing. Offices are usually occupied in the daytime and for work, hence the brighter and often whiter lighting. No choices are actually wrong - it can often be a matter of personal taste.

For proof that fluorescent lights can look good, see here: https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157627309965154

In this case, I mixed daylight and fluorescents. Also, this space was designed before Title 24 regulations required LED’s.

Finally, some might read these posts and interpret that LED’s are optional - it’s a good point that they’re worth the upfront costs to avoid any future operating/replacement costs. BUT, in some areas like California, they’re required to comply to Title 24 regulations, not optional, for nearly all cases. FYI.

Jerome Chang

Architect, founder

www.BLANKSPACES.com

On Mar 1, 2018, at 10:55 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

Alrighty, here goes. This is going to cover a lot of what I learned, and how we got lighting results we’re really happy with.

Again, it’s basically impossible to give direct advice on how YOU should budget without seeing the floorplans and even photos of the space itself.

But here’s what we did:

These numbers are rough, but if I reverse engineer our lighting budget from the overall project fit-out…

  • We spent ~$7.50 per square foot on all of our electrical work, which was almost entirely brand new (new wiring, power sockets, breaker panels, lighting fixtures, switches…everything with power running through it was basically brand new.
  • Approx 25% of the electrical budget was lighting fixtures*.* That included tracks + LED track heads as our primary light source, accent lighting, and special fixtures for inside our meeting rooms. So roughly $1.80/square foot on light fixtures alone (this doesn’t include installation, wiring, switches, etc). YMMV, of course, but stacking this number against other lighting upgrade projects I’ve seen and done…it seems about right, plus/minus 10%.

*Keep in mind, that’s with all LED fixtures, which are often appear 2-3x more $$$ up front but save a boatload in energy costs and you basically never need to buy another bulb (which, in our old space, we spent several hundred dollars a year on replacement bulbs for various non LED fixtures). *

Now, I had a really hard time getting useful advice from folks who had lots of experience with lighting for “traditional” offices. It seems like lighting design for workspaces tends to be based around two assumptions:

1 - brighter is always better

2 - desks and workspaces are bolted down and won’t ever change location

As a result, I kept noticing lighting design that was both inflexible, and gave off what I can only describe as “office vibes.” I’d never light my home the way these offices are lit. Our goal is always to create spaces that feel as comfortable as working from home…but are more productive.

The best design advice I got was from someone whose primary experience wasn’t office lighting design…but theater lighting design. He was someone who really thought about how lighting impacts moods, how people move through space, etc. He also had a lot of experience adapting this knowledge to creative lighting installations, etc. He totally understood what I was trying to achieve in terms of a lighting experience and that we still needed lighting that would be good for working under.

On the downside…he ended up being a pretty shitty, unreliable business person, so I can’t confidently recommend him. But his lighting advice was really good. :slight_smile:

To maximize flexibility, the bulk of our primary lighting source are a standard (white, in our case) 3 wire “h-style” track system, which we laid out like this. The diagram is a little tough to understand at if you don’t know what you’re looking at, and there’s one important piece that’s missing entirely, so here’s the gist of our strategy:

  • We wanted to make it easy to turn all of the primary lights on/off without having to walk across the entire space (our old location had lights all over the place, turning them all on/off took a solid 5 mins of walking around the space).
  • We broke the tracks into “clusters” that would light each of the primary work areas, and allow us to flexibly move the track heads around
  • EVERYTHING ON DIMMERS. Some people like working in low light. Others like it bright. Give yourself options.
  • We used clusters of 3-5 white frosted glass pendant lights as “accent” lighting in corners and other areas that were likely to be cozy little lounge or breakout areas, like this.
  • We found this incredible fixture for inside our meeting rooms, phone rooms, really any room that was going to have a closed door on it. It’s sleek, throws really nice light in all directions, and is easy to mount either nearly flush with a ceiling or, if you have the height to support it, suspended at a comfortable height. We get a ton of compliments on these fixtures. They’re also only ~$120 US a piece. The only downside (and it’s a big one) is you have to order them in minimum of 10 units, and they’re coming directly from a supplier in China so it’s going to take a few weeks minimum AND shipping can get expensive. Thankfully, I was ordering enough (and early enough) to make it worthwhile.
  • Our original fit out used a direct-from-china track head as well, and I like them just fine, but when we expanded we couldn’t get more of the fixtures so I had to look elsewhere and ended up finding a great dimmable LED track fixture that, even with domestic shipping, cut our per-fixture cost *in half (*from ~$60/head to around $30).
  • When choosing color temperatures, I tried to get fixtures that were on the cool end of warm, more like residential bulbs. 3000k-3500k tended to give the best color, more feeling like natural sunlight without being too “glowy.” 4k seems to be more “popular” in office settings but in our tests it always felt too cold and sharp. At the same time, I learned that these numbers aren’t super consistent across manufacturers. When possible, try to get sample fixtures and test them in the real setting, mixed with whatever natural light you’re working with.

**The big thing that’s not obvious about the lighting plan is that over half of our tracks are actually turned *upside down, *and point the fixture at the ceiling. **

Originally, we installed all of our track heads the way you’re used to seeing them: pointed down and at an angle. The trouble we hadn’t calculated was how often a light would end up pointed directly in somebody’s face. We tried tweaking track positions, but avoiding one person’s eyes almost always meant pointing them into someone else’s eyes.

*The other problem was that - and this might sound obvious but bear with me - lights work best when they have something to reflect off of. *

The “shadow” problems you mentioned are a symptom of direct lighting, something we generally were trying to avoid because it’s harsh (especially with glossy computer screens). We wanted the space to appear bright, but without work areas (desks, etc) feeling like they were under a spotlight.

We tried filters and gels, too, but the most effective technique was to make sure that our track fixtures were directed at a nearby surface: a wall, a column, a beam, ductwork…any surface that would help distribute the light to the surrounding areas. Like this example, in our gallery space. By pointing fixtures at the walls, the surrounding areas are cast in a very comfortable indirect light. That seems to be the key.

The trouble we ran into with our space was that in so much of our space, the “walls” are just our windows to the outside world. They’re great for letting natural light in, but pointing lights at them was horrible. They’d just shine the direct light back into someone’s eyes, and do very little to actually light the space.

So in the rest of the space, we decided to flip the tracks upside down so we could point the fixtures at our ceiling. Like this.

By treating our ceiling like another wall (we’d already painted it a bright color to reflect the natural light), and now we’re able to get the same general effect of LOTS of bright but soft, indirect lighting covering almost every area of workspace. Nobody has to work under a spotlight. Success.

When we expanded our space in October, we took the same approach of flipping the tracks from the start. The electricians looked at us a little funny when I asked for it, but after it was in even they commented how nice it looked.

Whew. That’s a lot, and kind of all over the place. But hopefully it helps you think through the decisions you need to make, which will include:

1 - how to light for experience, not just function

2 - how to “layer” different fixtures to help indicate zones and uses

3 - making use of your existing tracks (or adding more of them to give you max flexibility)

4 - choosing fixtures, and finding ways to save $$

5 - using your constraints

If I can help more one-on-one, feel free to shoot me an email. :slight_smile:

-Alex


The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 6:41 PM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

Jen - it’d also help to get an idea of what you’re working with. Can you post a floorplan? Even better, a plan that shows where existing lights are?

On Feb 28, 2018, 6:29 PM -0500, Jen Luby [email protected], wrote:

Hey all, my landlord is asking for a lighting plan so he can get a sense of budget for the buildout…but this is not my forte. What kind of lights do you guys use in a) open work areas and b) private offices? Currently there are a ton of track lights installed (it’s a former gallery space) but from what I’ve read those can cast unpleasant shadows.

(Alex, I put you in the subject because I think you worked on this for Indy Hall, although I didn’t find any previous posts about. My apologies if I’m wrong.)

Thanks!

Jen Luby

Dayhouse Coworking

Highland Park, IL

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Jennifer Dunham Luby
[email protected]
c: 847.207.0358

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To anyone.

···

On Mon, Mar 5, 2018 at 1:02 PM, Jerome Chang [email protected] wrote:

Jerome

Hi. Is that “spend” question to me or…?

On Mar 5, 2018, at 8:32 AM, Jen Luby [email protected] wrote:

A follow up question: How much did you guys spend, and how big is your space?

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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On Sat, Mar 3, 2018 at 11:03 AM, Jerome Chang [email protected] wrote:

Hi.

Another alternative is to use fluorescent lights, or their LED equivalents, as Liz mentioned. I find them quite good to provide a general, “ambient” light for the entire office. I had assumed that track lights would cause some hot/cold spots, but it seems that even if they were to do so, some people still prefer them in an office space setting.

It’s creative to point these track lights against a wall or ceiling, making them indirect lighting. However, I wonder if that effectively makes them perform inefficiently…which then leads me back to fluorescent lights that point down, but in an ambient not-hot/cold way.

Different people do respond differently with 3500-4200K lights (btw, K = Kelvin temperature), so it can be hit/miss. Above this range are usually for clinical/hospital or warehouse environments; below for intimate, residential or hospitality environments.

Another spec to notice is CRI, which is color rendering index. Basically, anything higher than 90 will allow you to see an object in its true color. Sometimes you can have the right Kelvin temp, but a bad CRI…no good.

I’ve found LED lights range from about $150-$300+ for 4-foot length fixtures. If you get an 8’ length, you’ll spend less $ per lineal foot.

As for designing lights in the office to be as comfortable as at home, I do want to clarify the reason that office lights are typically “whiter” than at home, which are typically “yellower,” is that you’re usually at home in the early part of the day, or evenings, both of which the sun is more yellow. You also associate homes during these times more for relaxing. Offices are usually occupied in the daytime and for work, hence the brighter and often whiter lighting. No choices are actually wrong - it can often be a matter of personal taste.

For proof that fluorescent lights can look good, see here: https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157627309965154

In this case, I mixed daylight and fluorescents. Also, this space was designed before Title 24 regulations required LED’s.

Finally, some might read these posts and interpret that LED’s are optional - it’s a good point that they’re worth the upfront costs to avoid any future operating/replacement costs. BUT, in some areas like California, they’re required to comply to Title 24 regulations, not optional, for nearly all cases. FYI.

Jerome Chang

Architect, founder

www.BLANKSPACES.com

On Mar 1, 2018, at 10:55 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

Alrighty, here goes. This is going to cover a lot of what I learned, and how we got lighting results we’re really happy with.

Again, it’s basically impossible to give direct advice on how YOU should budget without seeing the floorplans and even photos of the space itself.

But here’s what we did:

These numbers are rough, but if I reverse engineer our lighting budget from the overall project fit-out…

  • We spent ~$7.50 per square foot on all of our electrical work, which was almost entirely brand new (new wiring, power sockets, breaker panels, lighting fixtures, switches…everything with power running through it was basically brand new.
  • Approx 25% of the electrical budget was lighting fixtures*.* That included tracks + LED track heads as our primary light source, accent lighting, and special fixtures for inside our meeting rooms. So roughly $1.80/square foot on light fixtures alone (this doesn’t include installation, wiring, switches, etc). YMMV, of course, but stacking this number against other lighting upgrade projects I’ve seen and done…it seems about right, plus/minus 10%.

*Keep in mind, that’s with all LED fixtures, which are often appear 2-3x more $$$ up front but save a boatload in energy costs and you basically never need to buy another bulb (which, in our old space, we spent several hundred dollars a year on replacement bulbs for various non LED fixtures). *

Now, I had a really hard time getting useful advice from folks who had lots of experience with lighting for “traditional” offices. It seems like lighting design for workspaces tends to be based around two assumptions:

1 - brighter is always better

2 - desks and workspaces are bolted down and won’t ever change location

As a result, I kept noticing lighting design that was both inflexible, and gave off what I can only describe as “office vibes.” I’d never light my home the way these offices are lit. Our goal is always to create spaces that feel as comfortable as working from home…but are more productive.

The best design advice I got was from someone whose primary experience wasn’t office lighting design…but theater lighting design. He was someone who really thought about how lighting impacts moods, how people move through space, etc. He also had a lot of experience adapting this knowledge to creative lighting installations, etc. He totally understood what I was trying to achieve in terms of a lighting experience and that we still needed lighting that would be good for working under.

On the downside…he ended up being a pretty shitty, unreliable business person, so I can’t confidently recommend him. But his lighting advice was really good. :slight_smile:

To maximize flexibility, the bulk of our primary lighting source are a standard (white, in our case) 3 wire “h-style” track system, which we laid out like this. The diagram is a little tough to understand at if you don’t know what you’re looking at, and there’s one important piece that’s missing entirely, so here’s the gist of our strategy:

  • We wanted to make it easy to turn all of the primary lights on/off without having to walk across the entire space (our old location had lights all over the place, turning them all on/off took a solid 5 mins of walking around the space).
  • We broke the tracks into “clusters” that would light each of the primary work areas, and allow us to flexibly move the track heads around
  • EVERYTHING ON DIMMERS. Some people like working in low light. Others like it bright. Give yourself options.
  • We used clusters of 3-5 white frosted glass pendant lights as “accent” lighting in corners and other areas that were likely to be cozy little lounge or breakout areas, like this.
  • We found this incredible fixture for inside our meeting rooms, phone rooms, really any room that was going to have a closed door on it. It’s sleek, throws really nice light in all directions, and is easy to mount either nearly flush with a ceiling or, if you have the height to support it, suspended at a comfortable height. We get a ton of compliments on these fixtures. They’re also only ~$120 US a piece. The only downside (and it’s a big one) is you have to order them in minimum of 10 units, and they’re coming directly from a supplier in China so it’s going to take a few weeks minimum AND shipping can get expensive. Thankfully, I was ordering enough (and early enough) to make it worthwhile.
  • Our original fit out used a direct-from-china track head as well, and I like them just fine, but when we expanded we couldn’t get more of the fixtures so I had to look elsewhere and ended up finding a great dimmable LED track fixture that, even with domestic shipping, cut our per-fixture cost *in half (*from ~$60/head to around $30).
  • When choosing color temperatures, I tried to get fixtures that were on the cool end of warm, more like residential bulbs. 3000k-3500k tended to give the best color, more feeling like natural sunlight without being too “glowy.” 4k seems to be more “popular” in office settings but in our tests it always felt too cold and sharp. At the same time, I learned that these numbers aren’t super consistent across manufacturers. When possible, try to get sample fixtures and test them in the real setting, mixed with whatever natural light you’re working with.

**The big thing that’s not obvious about the lighting plan is that over half of our tracks are actually turned *upside down, *and point the fixture at the ceiling. **

Originally, we installed all of our track heads the way you’re used to seeing them: pointed down and at an angle. The trouble we hadn’t calculated was how often a light would end up pointed directly in somebody’s face. We tried tweaking track positions, but avoiding one person’s eyes almost always meant pointing them into someone else’s eyes.

*The other problem was that - and this might sound obvious but bear with me - lights work best when they have something to reflect off of. *

The “shadow” problems you mentioned are a symptom of direct lighting, something we generally were trying to avoid because it’s harsh (especially with glossy computer screens). We wanted the space to appear bright, but without work areas (desks, etc) feeling like they were under a spotlight.

We tried filters and gels, too, but the most effective technique was to make sure that our track fixtures were directed at a nearby surface: a wall, a column, a beam, ductwork…any surface that would help distribute the light to the surrounding areas. Like this example, in our gallery space. By pointing fixtures at the walls, the surrounding areas are cast in a very comfortable indirect light. That seems to be the key.

The trouble we ran into with our space was that in so much of our space, the “walls” are just our windows to the outside world. They’re great for letting natural light in, but pointing lights at them was horrible. They’d just shine the direct light back into someone’s eyes, and do very little to actually light the space.

So in the rest of the space, we decided to flip the tracks upside down so we could point the fixtures at our ceiling. Like this.

By treating our ceiling like another wall (we’d already painted it a bright color to reflect the natural light), and now we’re able to get the same general effect of LOTS of bright but soft, indirect lighting covering almost every area of workspace. Nobody has to work under a spotlight. Success.

When we expanded our space in October, we took the same approach of flipping the tracks from the start. The electricians looked at us a little funny when I asked for it, but after it was in even they commented how nice it looked.

Whew. That’s a lot, and kind of all over the place. But hopefully it helps you think through the decisions you need to make, which will include:

1 - how to light for experience, not just function

2 - how to “layer” different fixtures to help indicate zones and uses

3 - making use of your existing tracks (or adding more of them to give you max flexibility)

4 - choosing fixtures, and finding ways to save $$

5 - using your constraints

If I can help more one-on-one, feel free to shoot me an email. :slight_smile:

-Alex

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Jennifer Dunham Luby
[email protected]
c: 847.207.0358


The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 6:41 PM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

Jen - it’d also help to get an idea of what you’re working with. Can you post a floorplan? Even better, a plan that shows where existing lights are?

On Feb 28, 2018, 6:29 PM -0500, Jen Luby [email protected], wrote:

Hey all, my landlord is asking for a lighting plan so he can get a sense of budget for the buildout…but this is not my forte. What kind of lights do you guys use in a) open work areas and b) private offices? Currently there are a ton of track lights installed (it’s a former gallery space) but from what I’ve read those can cast unpleasant shadows.

(Alex, I put you in the subject because I think you worked on this for Indy Hall, although I didn’t find any previous posts about. My apologies if I’m wrong.)

Thanks!

Jen Luby

Dayhouse Coworking

Highland Park, IL

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[email protected]
c: 847.207.0358

···

I’ll be honest, I have a really hard time answering this question because I’ve been through this several times with our own locations, and hundreds (or more) of times with spaces I’ve advised.

Every time the number is different. Other peoples’ numbers can be very, very deceptive because they don’t tell the entire story. Exactly what someone else spent almost never matters, because you’re not in the same situation with the same options or constraints as them.

Indy Hall’s original space (1800 sq ft) opened with <$10k, because the space didn’t really need much in order for us to move in and start coworking. We made lots of incremental improvements along the way.

Our current space was completely bare (no power, no HVAC, etc) and our landlord had offered us a TI (tenant improvement) budget towards the fit out. TI $$ numbers vary quite a bit based on…well, everything. Including how good you are at negotiating (btw first rule of negotiating - you don’t want to be the one to throw out the first number).

But that’s not the point of me bringing it up.

When we were negotiating our current lease, I got our TI budget in $ per square foot and simply did the math wrong, underestimating the budget *by a factor of 10. *

I started figuring out how we’d make it work, and had a rough gameplan.I started asking for support with the larger “infrastructure” items and the landlord pointed out my miscalculation. We had a good laugh. I had 10x more budget to work with than I thought I did. But because I was so used to working with next to nothing, I had already started figuring out how to make it work.

My point is: work within your constraints, and don’t be afraid to ask the landlord for help. You’re improving the value of their building. It took me a really long time to realize that that could translate to economic support.

If I were in your shoes, and the landlord hadn’t already provided a number they’re comfortable spending, I’d be asking the landlord what they realistically are prepared to spend on improvements and then get creative with how you can accomplish goals inside of those constraints.

-Alex


The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

On Mon, Mar 5, 2018 at 2:23 PM, Jen Luby <jenni…@gmail.com> wrote:

To anyone.

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On Mon, Mar 5, 2018 at 1:02 PM, Jerome Chang <jer…@blankspaces.com> wrote:

Jerome

Hi. Is that “spend” question to me or…?

On Mar 5, 2018, at 8:32 AM, Jen Luby <jenni…@gmail.com> wrote:

A follow up question: How much did you guys spend, and how big is your space?

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On Sat, Mar 3, 2018 at 11:03 AM, Jerome Chang <jer…@blankspaces.com> wrote:

Hi.

Another alternative is to use fluorescent lights, or their LED equivalents, as Liz mentioned. I find them quite good to provide a general, “ambient” light for the entire office. I had assumed that track lights would cause some hot/cold spots, but it seems that even if they were to do so, some people still prefer them in an office space setting.

It’s creative to point these track lights against a wall or ceiling, making them indirect lighting. However, I wonder if that effectively makes them perform inefficiently…which then leads me back to fluorescent lights that point down, but in an ambient not-hot/cold way.

Different people do respond differently with 3500-4200K lights (btw, K = Kelvin temperature), so it can be hit/miss. Above this range are usually for clinical/hospital or warehouse environments; below for intimate, residential or hospitality environments.

Another spec to notice is CRI, which is color rendering index. Basically, anything higher than 90 will allow you to see an object in its true color. Sometimes you can have the right Kelvin temp, but a bad CRI…no good.

I’ve found LED lights range from about $150-$300+ for 4-foot length fixtures. If you get an 8’ length, you’ll spend less $ per lineal foot.

As for designing lights in the office to be as comfortable as at home, I do want to clarify the reason that office lights are typically “whiter” than at home, which are typically “yellower,” is that you’re usually at home in the early part of the day, or evenings, both of which the sun is more yellow. You also associate homes during these times more for relaxing. Offices are usually occupied in the daytime and for work, hence the brighter and often whiter lighting. No choices are actually wrong - it can often be a matter of personal taste.

For proof that fluorescent lights can look good, see here: https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157627309965154

In this case, I mixed daylight and fluorescents. Also, this space was designed before Title 24 regulations required LED’s.

Finally, some might read these posts and interpret that LED’s are optional - it’s a good point that they’re worth the upfront costs to avoid any future operating/replacement costs. BUT, in some areas like California, they’re required to comply to Title 24 regulations, not optional, for nearly all cases. FYI.

Jerome Chang

Architect, founder

www.BLANKSPACES.com

On Mar 1, 2018, at 10:55 AM, Alex Hillman <dangerous…@gmail.com> wrote:

Alrighty, here goes. This is going to cover a lot of what I learned, and how we got lighting results we’re really happy with.

Again, it’s basically impossible to give direct advice on how YOU should budget without seeing the floorplans and even photos of the space itself.

But here’s what we did:

These numbers are rough, but if I reverse engineer our lighting budget from the overall project fit-out…

  • We spent ~$7.50 per square foot on all of our electrical work, which was almost entirely brand new (new wiring, power sockets, breaker panels, lighting fixtures, switches…everything with power running through it was basically brand new.
  • Approx 25% of the electrical budget was lighting fixtures*.* That included tracks + LED track heads as our primary light source, accent lighting, and special fixtures for inside our meeting rooms. So roughly $1.80/square foot on light fixtures alone (this doesn’t include installation, wiring, switches, etc). YMMV, of course, but stacking this number against other lighting upgrade projects I’ve seen and done…it seems about right, plus/minus 10%.

*Keep in mind, that’s with all LED fixtures, which are often appear 2-3x more $$$ up front but save a boatload in energy costs and you basically never need to buy another bulb (which, in our old space, we spent several hundred dollars a year on replacement bulbs for various non LED fixtures). *

Now, I had a really hard time getting useful advice from folks who had lots of experience with lighting for “traditional” offices. It seems like lighting design for workspaces tends to be based around two assumptions:

1 - brighter is always better

2 - desks and workspaces are bolted down and won’t ever change location

As a result, I kept noticing lighting design that was both inflexible, and gave off what I can only describe as “office vibes.” I’d never light my home the way these offices are lit. Our goal is always to create spaces that feel as comfortable as working from home…but are more productive.

The best design advice I got was from someone whose primary experience wasn’t office lighting design…but theater lighting design. He was someone who really thought about how lighting impacts moods, how people move through space, etc. He also had a lot of experience adapting this knowledge to creative lighting installations, etc. He totally understood what I was trying to achieve in terms of a lighting experience and that we still needed lighting that would be good for working under.

On the downside…he ended up being a pretty shitty, unreliable business person, so I can’t confidently recommend him. But his lighting advice was really good. :slight_smile:

To maximize flexibility, the bulk of our primary lighting source are a standard (white, in our case) 3 wire “h-style” track system, which we laid out like this. The diagram is a little tough to understand at if you don’t know what you’re looking at, and there’s one important piece that’s missing entirely, so here’s the gist of our strategy:

  • We wanted to make it easy to turn all of the primary lights on/off without having to walk across the entire space (our old location had lights all over the place, turning them all on/off took a solid 5 mins of walking around the space).
  • We broke the tracks into “clusters” that would light each of the primary work areas, and allow us to flexibly move the track heads around
  • EVERYTHING ON DIMMERS. Some people like working in low light. Others like it bright. Give yourself options.
  • We used clusters of 3-5 white frosted glass pendant lights as “accent” lighting in corners and other areas that were likely to be cozy little lounge or breakout areas, like this.
  • We found this incredible fixture for inside our meeting rooms, phone rooms, really any room that was going to have a closed door on it. It’s sleek, throws really nice light in all directions, and is easy to mount either nearly flush with a ceiling or, if you have the height to support it, suspended at a comfortable height. We get a ton of compliments on these fixtures. They’re also only ~$120 US a piece. The only downside (and it’s a big one) is you have to order them in minimum of 10 units, and they’re coming directly from a supplier in China so it’s going to take a few weeks minimum AND shipping can get expensive. Thankfully, I was ordering enough (and early enough) to make it worthwhile.
  • Our original fit out used a direct-from-china track head as well, and I like them just fine, but when we expanded we couldn’t get more of the fixtures so I had to look elsewhere and ended up finding a great dimmable LED track fixture that, even with domestic shipping, cut our per-fixture cost *in half (*from ~$60/head to around $30).
  • When choosing color temperatures, I tried to get fixtures that were on the cool end of warm, more like residential bulbs. 3000k-3500k tended to give the best color, more feeling like natural sunlight without being too “glowy.” 4k seems to be more “popular” in office settings but in our tests it always felt too cold and sharp. At the same time, I learned that these numbers aren’t super consistent across manufacturers. When possible, try to get sample fixtures and test them in the real setting, mixed with whatever natural light you’re working with.

**The big thing that’s not obvious about the lighting plan is that over half of our tracks are actually turned *upside down, *and point the fixture at the ceiling. **

Originally, we installed all of our track heads the way you’re used to seeing them: pointed down and at an angle. The trouble we hadn’t calculated was how often a light would end up pointed directly in somebody’s face. We tried tweaking track positions, but avoiding one person’s eyes almost always meant pointing them into someone else’s eyes.

*The other problem was that - and this might sound obvious but bear with me - lights work best when they have something to reflect off of. *

The “shadow” problems you mentioned are a symptom of direct lighting, something we generally were trying to avoid because it’s harsh (especially with glossy computer screens). We wanted the space to appear bright, but without work areas (desks, etc) feeling like they were under a spotlight.

We tried filters and gels, too, but the most effective technique was to make sure that our track fixtures were directed at a nearby surface: a wall, a column, a beam, ductwork…any surface that would help distribute the light to the surrounding areas. Like this example, in our gallery space. By pointing fixtures at the walls, the surrounding areas are cast in a very comfortable indirect light. That seems to be the key.

The trouble we ran into with our space was that in so much of our space, the “walls” are just our windows to the outside world. They’re great for letting natural light in, but pointing lights at them was horrible. They’d just shine the direct light back into someone’s eyes, and do very little to actually light the space.

So in the rest of the space, we decided to flip the tracks upside down so we could point the fixtures at our ceiling. Like this.

By treating our ceiling like another wall (we’d already painted it a bright color to reflect the natural light), and now we’re able to get the same general effect of LOTS of bright but soft, indirect lighting covering almost every area of workspace. Nobody has to work under a spotlight. Success.

When we expanded our space in October, we took the same approach of flipping the tracks from the start. The electricians looked at us a little funny when I asked for it, but after it was in even they commented how nice it looked.

Whew. That’s a lot, and kind of all over the place. But hopefully it helps you think through the decisions you need to make, which will include:

1 - how to light for experience, not just function

2 - how to “layer” different fixtures to help indicate zones and uses

3 - making use of your existing tracks (or adding more of them to give you max flexibility)

4 - choosing fixtures, and finding ways to save $$

5 - using your constraints

If I can help more one-on-one, feel free to shoot me an email. :slight_smile:

-Alex

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Jennifer Dunham Luby
jenni…@gmail.com
c: 847.207.0358


The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 6:41 PM, Alex Hillman <dangerous…@gmail.com> wrote:

Jen - it’d also help to get an idea of what you’re working with. Can you post a floorplan? Even better, a plan that shows where existing lights are?

On Feb 28, 2018, 6:29 PM -0500, Jen Luby <jenni…@gmail.com>, wrote:

Hey all, my landlord is asking for a lighting plan so he can get a sense of budget for the buildout…but this is not my forte. What kind of lights do you guys use in a) open work areas and b) private offices? Currently there are a ton of track lights installed (it’s a former gallery space) but from what I’ve read those can cast unpleasant shadows.

(Alex, I put you in the subject because I think you worked on this for Indy Hall, although I didn’t find any previous posts about. My apologies if I’m wrong.)

Thanks!

Jen Luby

Dayhouse Coworking

Highland Park, IL

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