In the planning stages for a decade, a new mixed-use development near downtown Austin, Texas, now dominates a major intersection in the city’s medical district. Called Lamar Central, the four-story, 165,000-square-foot, LEED®-Certified building opened in the fall of 2015. It since has enlivened the area, attracting some prominent tenants for its retail and restaurant space on the ground level, as well as office space on the three floors above.
Houston-based developer Highland Resources Inc. tasked architect STG Design to design the structure, which replaced ramshackle retail buildings that formerly stood on the site.
The result is a streamlined, modern building with forward-thinking features, including a landscaped courtyard and breezeway with a unique design element that incorporates iLight Plexineon LED fixtures. .
“The owner loves showing the ceiling off.”
– Kelsey Humphrey
The Design Challenge
The challenge was to create a visual bridge from the building’s formal exterior façade to the more relaxed courtyard.
A long breezeway with retail on either side offered the perfect opportunity. “The breezeway activates the courtyard from the street side of the building,” says Kelsey Humphrey, Architectural Designer.
The design team conceived doing a unique ceiling installation. With sustainability a design priority, nature served as inspiration. “We looked at the cell structure of a plant,” Humphrey says. “We were drawn to the honeycomb pattern, with its structured rhythm and geometry. We started taking the shapes apart and getting playful with lights and color.”
With the vision set, the design team considered several options to light the three-dimensional, green and white honeycomb shapes overhead. Neon was rejected, Humphrey says, “because the installation and wiring challenges would have been too cumbersome.” Maintenance and durability were also factors, given exposure to the outdoors. iLight’s product checked all the necessary boxes. “It was a no brainer for us to go with Plexineon,” Humphrey says.
The Plexineon Advantage
Since the idea for the ceiling element was introduced relatively late in the design and build process, smooth installation was key. White aluminum panels served as a substrate for the Plexineon fixtures, and a local signage company did the fabricating – mounting the fixtures to the panels, then transporting everything as a single piece.
“It turned out really great,” Humphrey says. The installation serves as an invitation to explore and be drawn into the courtyard space. The white glow at night catches the eye of passerby, while adding energy to the new, adjoining retail spaces.
Humphrey says, “The owner loves showing the ceiling off.”