575 5th Avenue Lobby by ESI Design with HOK and Available Light
New York City
After more than 30 years as L’Oréal’s headquarters, a 1960s office tower in Midtown Manhattan recently unveiled a new identity when the cosmetics company moved to a new location. To lure smaller businesses, co-owners Beacon Capital Partners and MetLife invested $25 million in capital improvements, and the results are apparent at the entrance: a lively lobby, reimagined by ESI Design with a data-driven scheme, now engages employees, visitors, and even passersby.
Clad with both ridged and smooth Carrara marble, the 2,350-square-foot space is wrapped by a ribbon of high-resolution LED screens programmed with changing streams of dynamic media. The original content by ESI features alternating slow-motion videos of neighboring buildings (filmed from the 40th floor), pedestrians walking by outside, and meditative nature scenes (during off-peak hours). These are layered with infographics that deliver real-time updates on local events, the stock market, news, and weather.
The lighting, designed by Available Light, is crisp and well-balanced. “So there isn’t just bright media on the walls,” says ESI design lead Michael Schneider. Controlled to enhance the visuals and adjust to the time of day, dimmable 3000K LEDs tucked in ceiling coves graze the textured marble walls—which catch the light—and gently wash the smooth ones down to the floor. Recessed LED downlights with wide beam spreads illuminate the columns and central space.
The lobby installation is like a virtual window out to the city, with immersive yet unhurried views. It’s not meant to mimic television. “This is architecture. It is not entertainment,” Schneider explains. “It’s a space that you move through, and we want the media here to move at the same speed as somebody’s shadow as they walk across the room.”
Interior & Media Designer:
HOK - Stanley Pikul
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
- ESI DESIGN TEAM -
Systems Integration: Diversified Systems, Inc.
Brett Beyer, 917-545-5500
Upswinging doors, other: Signage Installers: DCL (Design Communications Limited) (Canopy Building-ID Letters & Vinyl Graphics on Glass Entry Doors)
Other special hardware: LED Tiles by VER
Wall coverings: Marble: Bianco Carrara Raw
Reception furniture: Capellini Bench (1), Minotti Armchairs (2), Vondom Planters (2)
Interior ambient lighting: fixtures by Lumenpulse
Other unique products that contribute to sustainability: By retrofitting the original lobby lighting fixtures with Lumenpulse products, the team was able to re-use the existing setup, using more energy-efficient LED units.