United States Institute of Peace

WBC - Lighting

Located on the National Mall, amidst the various National monuments, memorials, museums, and Federal buildings stands the new United States Institute of Peace (USIP) headquarters. A brand new facility for a non-partisan, government established organization, the building will serve as a national center for research, education, training, and policy development on issues of international conflict prevention, management, and resolution. 

As it is located in the highest profile area in the nation’s capital, the building was designed to be, not only a government office and research facility, but a monument and symbol of peace as well. Special care was taken to ensure that the building would be worthy of the organization and the location. To ensure that the building would integrate with the other monuments along the National Mall, the design was distinctive, yet familiar; a 7 level (5 levels and 2 parking levels) building joined thru the second floor, splitting into 3 separate “buildings” at Levels 3 thru 5. Two separate glass Atriums with glass roofs showcase the intricate design. 

The lighting aspect of the building was no exception. The lighting presented numerous challenges for Mona Electric but, ultimately, numerous rewards. The $1.4M project consisted of nearly 3000 individual light fixtures, as well as 800’ of festoon lamp “rope lights”, and 75 different fixture types ranging from your standard fluorescent strip to custom-built suspension fixtures. Mona Electric awarded the job to Shepherd Electric Supply due to their ability to handle large and intricate lighting jobs from the beginning bid process and onto the submittals and expediting process through the closeout of the job. A Lutron system consisting of both the Grafix and Quantum panels and 25 individual switching and dimming panels were installed to control the multitude of zones, scenes, and dimming while helping the building to achieve LEED-Green certification. As mentioned above, the building was designed to serve as a memorial as well as a functional center. Nearly every area of the building (apart from mechanical spaces) consisted of curved walls, multiple ceiling types including acoustical metal panels and fabric membrane ceilings. 

Each of the two Atriums contained curved coves at the very top; the South Atrium coves are 92’ and 140’, while the North Atrium coves are 132’ and 152’. The Atrium cove lights are one of the highlights of the building, illuminating the glass roof. Additionally, downlights are installed outside the level 5 offices in the atriums. The second level contains numerous conference rooms, each with their own unique lighting scheme and fixtures. A 200+ person auditorium presented its own challenges, including 46 individual runs of the above mentioned festoon rope lights on 6 control transformers. These runs had to be redesigned and field cut to coordinate with the architectural wall panels and fabric walls in this area and to ensure proper power requirements for these lights were met. The offices posed challenges as well. The ceilings in the offices are a finished concrete. No conduit could be exposed and fixture boxes were installed during deck construction. The office fixtures are suspended from the ceilings and required two men to install and level. Additionally, each office has an architectural cove at a clerestory window where fixtures are installed to provide light to the corridors. These coves are extremely narrow and extra care was taken to properly circuit the normal and emergency lighting. The office levels also contain open spaces with a cable-suspended “hanging cove”. The light fixtures had to be installed after the coves were already installed, making a difficult installation that much more challenging.  

Extreme coordination with other trades was required for much of the lighting installation. As noted above, the project contains atypical finishes. The fabric membrane ceilings posed yet another challenge. The ceilings are actually made of a fabric that is heated and stretched across and area. There is no room for error. Even the slightest measurement error could delay an area and require an entirely new ceiling. Unlike drywall or ceiling tiles, the fabric membrane ceilings cannot be repaired if damaged or improperly cut. 

Ultimately, it was a team effort and partnership between Mona Electric and Shepherd Electric Supply the entire way.  The Shepherd team worked very hard to make the entire job process run as smooth as possible for Mona. Mona depended on Shepherd’s attention to detail and fast response time. Despite the difficulties and challenges, the end result is most satisfying. From dusk until dawn, the building radiates; a glowing memorial of peace and hope.


USIP

The U.S. Institute of Peace is not only an office building, but a monument of peace as well.

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