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The International Interior Design Association’s Southern California Chapter feted the 29th Annual Calibre Design Awards at a gala in May, 2017. KGM Architectural Lighting was named on six of the 85 nominated project teams, noted for work that exemplifies a "high level of teamwork and stunning design." KGM contributed to three of the 11 winning projects. They attribute the success of these projects to great team leadership, communication and truly committed owners.

Held at the iconic Beverly Hilton, this year’s Calibre Awards included Circle of Excellence honoree, architect Joey N. Shimoda. The Calibre awards celebrate design and recognize the where a team of consultants and builders exceeded expectations in bringing a vision to life. According to IIDA SoCal, Calibre awards honor "the true meaning of collaboration."

Loyola Marymount University Life Sciences Building - KGM Project lauded for team efforts
Claremont McKenna College, Roberts Pavilion

Roberts Pavilion is the 144,000 sqft fitness and events center for Claremont McKenna College and the athletic center for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps intercollegiate, intramural and physical education programs. John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects (JFAK) brought their distinctive style to the LEED Gold facility, one of the anchors to the campus master plan. The architecture – with its glass "understory" and sunken 2200-seat arena – expresses lightness and movement, optimizing daylighting and views. "We always endeavor to create dynamic forms and spaces with interiors filled with natural light," Friedman said.

JFAK nominated KGM along with Buro Happold Engineering, Psomas and Simpson Gumpertz & Heger for their group effort on Roberts Pavilion, the winner of the Calibre awards’ Health and Wellness category. "Daylight and daylight controls play a role in terms of the way that the light interacts in the space, and transforms the space into a lantern at night. It’s kind of an icon for the campus; [visible] from many long views around campus," said John Martin, KGM associate principal.

Martin described the holistic approach of the project team. KGM was brought in early in the process: "Because we were a preferred consultant for the college, we have an inherent trust with the client." He describes the facility as a world-class piece of architecture.

"I’ve worked with larger firms on more complicated projects, but JFAK did a great job of bringing [the team] together to coordinate a thoughtful and comprehensive design." He described in detail one of many, many technical meetings, an instance where John Friedman maintained his designer’s eye. "While we were having this very pedestrian exercise [of clash detection], he also had an aesthetic view of, Hey, I think we have a problem over here. Does that really represent what our current design is?" Martin described this as an example of great team leadership: Friedman was not calling out an error, but leading the team to a solution, through his sensitivity to his visual environment.

Claremont McKenna College - Roberts Pavillion - KGM Project lauded for team effort
Loyola Marymount University Life Sciences Building

Loyola Marymount University’s Life Sciences Building was the Calibre winner in the Education category. CO Architects nominated the project team, naming KGM along with IBE Consulting Engineers (now Stantec), Thornton Tomasetti, Vantage Technology Consulting Group and Whitin Design Works (now Whitin Giroux Works). The building achieved its goal for LEED Gold certification.

The facility’s 100,000 sqft includes 35 research and teaching laboratories, faculty research space and a 273-seat auditorium. The teaching laboratories have glass walls, a transparency that allows students and guests to observe activity in the labs and encourages the sharing of knowledge, according to Paul Zajfen, design principal at CO Architects. "Openness and transparency are hallmarks of our design, which puts science on display, encourages collaborative interaction, and engages the greater campus," he said.

"CO Architects did a wonderful job designing the project to really capture and utilize daylight harvesting, which was a goal from the very beginning for the university," said Patrick McCollough, senior associate at KGM. Daylighting floods the main atrium space and translates to corridors, classrooms and laboratories.

"The openness of the of the auditorium was very important to create a visual connection between the interior and the exterior, but we also wanted to be able to create a separation for when there’s lectures," McCollough said. A sophisticated screening system allows daylight to pass through, but KGM illuminated the screen with LED downlights to block distractions from views.

In both the corridors and the classrooms and labs, the lighting is laid out perpendicular to the glass facades. Zoning the fixtures for daylight harvesting became more complicated. Instead of controlling rows of fixtures, runs of linear luminaires had to be "broken up" and these segments controlled in zones. "There’s a cohesive balance, and that can only be achieved with an architect that believes in the idea and then carries that through with the engineer," McCollough explained.

Integrating electric lighting and daylight harvesting into building management, "none of that ever really happens without the client’s willingness to jump in wholeheartedly and invest in the future of the project. And I think that’s why this was nominated for the [Calibre] award." McCollough credits the client and the design team collectively for realizing the architect’s vision. "A lot of times projects can get dismantled. Idealistic ideas can get destroyed due to funds, cash, investors."

He also credits many meetings to coordinate efforts. "I think the only way that these projects can find great success is to make sure that everyone is talking to each other, because obviously if the budget’s not maintained and protected, it’s not going to get built. If the contractor doesn’t understand the goals of the design team, it’s not going to get built. If the engineer doesn’t believe in the strategy that the lighting designer and architect have come up with, because they have a different vision, it’s not going to get built. I think that a successful project proves the success of the team that put it together."

30th Annual Calibre Design Awards

Calibre Design Awards logo

The International Interior Design Association brings together commercial interior design professionals from around the world. Founded in 1995, the vital SoCal Chapter counts 800 members in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Santa Barbara and the Inland Empire. The Beverly Hilton will once again host the Calibre awards gala in May 2018. Nominations for the competition open in November.

Lois I. Hutchinson

About Lois I. Hutchinson

Lois I. Hutchinson is a freelance writer specializing in lighting and energy issues. She is also the content marketing mastermind behind Inverse Square LLC, a Los Angeles–based consultancy. Contact her via with your comments and any article ideas that concern the lighting community here in the Southwest.

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