The challenge in designing a lighting control system for the Bank of China, Beijing, was twofold. The desired outcome included both highlighting the grandeur and also maintaining a sense of openness that is inviting to the public.

Designed by New York-based Pei Partnership Architects, the 518,000-square-foot building comprises two L-shaped wings, which meet in a 145-foot-high garden atrium. The building also houses a monumental banking hall, 2,000-seat auditorium, reception hall, executive offices, as well as parking, dining and other services for more than 2,500 employees. Public areas maximize open space, clean lines and daylight.

“With a space this big, the main challenge is to make the volume read,” said lighting designer Jerry Kugler. “At night, you still want to appreciate the sheer scale of the space but make it inviting using layers of light.”

Kugler decided to bounce a lot of light off the floor to give some glow to the walls. By directly lighting some of the more important walls — the walls opposite the soaring glass curtain wall and walls on either side of the entrance — visitors are drawn from outside across the open atrium to the elevator banks and other access areas.

The architect and lighting designer chose U.S.-based Lutron Electronics' Grafik 6000 lighting control system to meet present and future lighting challenges and to create that traditional garden feel. They also chose a Lutron HWI lighting control system to switch more than 44,000 square feet of office space.

The control systems are easy to use and virtually transparent through automation of controlled lighting scenes. And, they don't just enhance the architecture; they save energy, too.