Ontario Association of Architects Headquarters Recognized with Sapphire Design Excellence Award

Ontario Association of Architects Headquarters

Dec 6, 2021

This month, we explore a highly energy-saving application of networked lighting controls at the Ontario Association of Architects Headquarters, which earned a 2021 Design Excellence in Networked Lighting Control Award for Energy Management. Lighting control design by Gottesman Associates. Lighting control system by Lutron Electronics.

This 30-year-old building was the winning entry of an international design competition. Owner-occupied by the architects’ association, licensing over 4,000 members, with four light switches controlling all 22,000 sq.ft.

The goal of renovation was to achieve Net Zero carbon of The 2030 Challenge in 2020. A team approach with holistic view was taken; all building systems were analyzed together to achieve optimal energy efficiency. Sustainable lighting systems and controls were identified as pillars of project success.

Extensive daylight modelling informed glare-mitigating glazing decisions and lower target illuminances. Luminaire placement was carefully selected to ensure easy accessibility for maintenance. Flicker free, 35K, 90+CRI LED was used throughout. Contrast ratios guided illumination of vertical surfaces and tasks.

Design mandate was to maintain and complement the original architecture. Lighting made use of the complicated structure, revealing interesting features and characteristics. Many luminaires were integrated, concealed from view. Where visible, luminaires mimicked architectural elements reinforcing building form and creating beautiful ambiance.

Indirect lighting floats the building above the ground floor parking, exposes the volume of the 30-ft. atrium, provides flexibility in meeting and council rooms, and delivers comfortable ambient light at reception and offices.

Lighting controls were critical for projects success with luminaire choices and multi-function spaces requiring compatibility and integration of drivers and lighting protocols, working harmoniously for system control. The required system dashboard is used for continuous monitoring of energy consumption and connectivity to building automation system.

Expandable, flexible wireless control system includes daylight harvesting, vacancy sensing, light level tuning, and involved rigorous commissioning. Photocell placement was tricky due to daylight redirecting film on upper clerestory windows and electrical uplighting. The ultimate result: average operating load is ~.1W/sf, with ~75% reduction in consumption compared to pre-renovation.
Budget was tight and met. Energy goals achieved. The project is a shining example of cost-effective, efficient, creative and controlled design.

The building floats with glowing transparency. Rectangular and linear luminaires reinforce building form; same luminaire with custom bend emphasizes curve of feature stair. When building is unoccupied, lighting is set to a minimum: only dimmed parking and curved feature stair lighting are used for security and to expose the building’s unique presence.












The reception area is well demarcated. Lighting controls tune and dim luminaires, and turn them off when spaces are unoccupied.

Ontario Association of Architects Headquarters











Layers of light bring the central atrium to life. Luminaires are well concealed in complicated structure, minimizing glare and adding depth and mystery. Vertical surfaces and tasks are well illuminated. Lighting controls help create different moods. DMX controlled RGBs are intended for special events in this multipurpose space. All lighting responds to automated controls.

Ontario Association of Architects Headquarters












Suspended luminaires in partitionable council/meeting rooms are two-circuit, separating uplight from downlight for flexibility. Daylight harvesting control sets maximum light output. Controls tune the maximum light level available to users. Tuning can be adjusted in the future for lumen maintenance, increasing useful life of luminaires.

Related Articles

Changing Scene

  • Leviton Expands Camargo Manufacturing Facility 80,000 square feet in Chihuahua, Mexico

    March 30, 2023 Breaks ground on 80,000 sq. ft. production facility to support growing customer needs  Leviton recently announced the expansion of its manufacturing facility in Camargo, Mexico. About the Camargo Facility Expansion The over 80,000 square foot facility will house several new production lines and a distribution center for more efficient operations, as well… Read More…

  • Universal Douglas Closes Doors

    March 29, 2023 Almost two years to the day that Panasonic Corporation sold Universal Lighting Technologies and Douglas Lighting Controls to Los Angeles-based private equity firm Atar Capital comes news that the recently rebranded Universal Douglas business is expected to stop all operation in July. According to a letter sent to its customers and reprinted on The Edison Report, the company is “committed… Read More…


  • Light at Night and the Inequality Gap: Progress and Challenges

    Light at Night and the Inequality Gap: Progress and Challenges

    March 9, 2023 In December 2021, the DLC hosted a webinar that explored issues related to “Bridging the Inequality Gap” in outdoor nighttime lighting. The conversation introduced research on how lighting contributes to discrimination and inequity in underrepresented communities, and generated heightened interest among attendees. To follow up on the research and work presented, the DLC sat… Read More…

  • LIT Design Awards Light Art Project Winner: Integral Group

    LIT Design Awards Light Art Project Winner: Integral Group

    December 19, 2022 Prize(s) Winners in Light Art Project Company Integral Group Lead Designers Ellie Niakan + Catherine Chan Photo Credits Catherine Chan Completion Date December 21, 2021 Project Location New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada Although appearing as solitary, trees are connected to one another through vast underground systems known as mycorrhizal networks. Through these hidden systems—a symbiotic relationship between plants… Read More…

New Products

  • Introducing LED-integrated Wine Rack System from MP Lighting

    Introducing LED-integrated Wine Rack System from MP Lighting

    March 23, 2023 Wine enthusiasts, sommeliers, and casual appreciators alike can all agree: wine is delicate. The naturally occurring chemicals in the wine can be disturbed by many environmental factors, mainly heat, lighting, and vibrations. To aid in the prevention of these factors spoiling the wine, wine racks can be installed. LED-integrated wine rack systems… Read More…

  • Punctuate with Hyphen. New architectural luminaire system by Fluxwerx

    Punctuate with Hyphen. New architectural luminaire system by Fluxwerx

    March 23, 2023 Fluxwerx makes a break from the ordinary with the launch of Hyphen—a family of discrete recessed and surface luminaires to design, define and leave your mark. With Portal, Fluxwerx pushed past conventional downlights and cylinders in our drive to give designers new and differentiated aesthetic options with innovative optics that maximize visual… Read More…