Located along a main thoroughfare outside Washington, D.C., North Bethesda Market in Maryland is an upscale mixed-use development of residential, shopping, dining, and recreational space in a community that is being redefined.
For decades, the area comprised office buildings and standard suburban retail offerings. Today, it reflects the new urbanism vision of a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly place where people live, work, and play.
The commercial section of the development includes a six-story structure that is anchored by a Whole Foods grocery store. Particularly at night, the building contributes to the neighborhood's exciting, modern aesthetic, thanks to the creative use of iLight's Plexineon White 2X 3500K fixtures on three sides of the exterior.
What is now a focal point of the building started as simply a solution to a problem: how to detract from the high-level lighting of the parking garage that is integrated into the structure.
MV+A Architects turned to architectural lighting design firm MCLA after construction, when it was apparent the garage lighting was too prominent. To remedy, the architects planned to add a perforated metal screen across the building façade; MCLA was challenged to add lighting to the screen.
"There was a lot of surface area," says Maureen Moran, Principal at MCLA. "We needed to put something on the screen that would make enough of an impact so that your eye wouldn't see into the garage."
Having worked with iLight's Plexineon many times before, Moran suggested staggering horizontal lines of the LED fixtures across the screen. She knew the glow of Plexineon could provide the "pop" needed to offset the garage lighting. At the same time, she appreciated that the small scale of the fixtures would be discreet during the day, when they aren't illuminated.
"iLight makes a very nice, clean product," Moran says. "In this application, the fixtures can be seen pretty well in daylight, so it helps that the product is very slim and has a nice mounting detail. It’s a very well designed product."
It turns out that at night, the stripes of Plexineon do more than just detract from the parking garage—they also add a sense of excitement and energy. For that reason, the fixtures were extended along two additional sides of the building, further enhancing the dynamic feel and look.
"The Plexineon is fun to look at," Moran says. "We're very happy with the result. As this area continues to unfold, I point to this as a good example of façade lighting when I talk to developers — we are proud of how it turned out."