Washington DC’s Picturesque Franklin Square Lobby Renovation

Washington, DC: 1300 Eye Street NW, also known as Franklin Square’s 500,000 square foot office building, has completed a major renovation.  The original building, built in the late 1980’s, was given a postmodern design, by Philip Johnson.  Championing the vision for the remodel was renowned architects, Hickok Cole, who enlisted GPI to execute a grand backlit concept at the focus of the entire lobby space.  Four massive backlit canopies flow from the exterior ceiling into the lobby, and then down the wall to the floor, drawing the eye – and the patrons – further into the space. GPI Design established a turnkey package from engineering and design, through installation, to bring the impressive lighting features to life.  A  full-size mock-up process held at GPI’s studio in Cleveland, OH, allowed for rigorous testing, prototypes, re-engineering and re-design for the team to better extrapolate the intricate details for these illuminated feature ceilings and walls.

Photo © Garrett Rowland

The Process. For this challenging piece, GPI Design knew the mock-up would be pivotal.  The mock-up procedure is something their team touts as the most important aspects of any custom lighting project.  The GPI team imparts their vast experience in combining different structural strategies with a variety of lighting solutions paired with multiple surface options to attain the best means and methods for each specific project.  “This allows our solutions to be tried and tested in practice, well before we depart to install full scale.  From this intensive exercise we are able to be more efficient onsite and deliver a more cost-effective solution that performs better”, says Thomas Lawrence, Founder and Director of GPI Design.  “Having the Architects, Interiors Designers and Lighting Designers be a part of our intense mock-up exercise is quite valuable.”

For this work at Franklin Square, not only was the scale immense, but the backlit feature incorporated large, heavy glass panels, a complex lighting system, and fine finish details – all of which needed to be acutely engineered and tested to ensure the solutions were not only technically applicable, but aesthetically suitable.  The mock-up was the building block that produced a finished result that replicated, almost identically, the renderings from Hickok Cole’s original vision.  GPI was able to study, at full scale, how the glass would be suspended from their custom structure, verify light fixture performance, spacing, arrangement of diffusion elements, and better determine joint sizes and clearances, just to name a few.  “The designers specified LED sheets with a typical diode spacing of 1 inch on center, and placed these in a precisely calculated airspace behind a ½-inch-thick diffusion-layer of glass with satin etching”, David Sokol reports in the latest May issue of Architectural Record.

Photo © Garrett Rowland

The completed project is exquisite.  GPI was able to deliver Hickok Cole’s vision of updating this 1980’s postmodern lobby into a more contemporary design that draws the eye through the space.  Bertin Radifera, Senior Associate at Hickok Cole, stated, “We are particularly proud of this project because of how we transformed an already elegant building, into the show piece it is now, staying respectfully elegant and exposing its simple and subtle beauty to the outside viewer.  GPI’s fixture, is really the front and center highlight of our design, the manner in which the GPI team executed our vision, is a large part of the project’s success.”

About the Company:  GPI Design is an engineer-build firm that creates iconic features. Through the combination of translucent material sourcing, bespoke lighting design practices, and innovative structural methods, GPI teams with architects to cultivate statements that push the boundaries of design.  To learn more about GPI Design, please visit: https://gpidesign.com/.