Optical Allusions

Merit Award

In Silicon Valley, Nortel Networks built a new home for their optical switching enterprise. The six-story facility would come to house office, laboratory, and research supporting the evolving use of light waves to transport data and knowledge, hence the theme, "light makes vision possible." The experience of optical research is presented with references to the physics of light and color, as well as human sight and intellectual vision. The interior design of the facility supported the thematic with creative lighting design and material finishes that reinforced the attributes of light transmission: transparency, translucency, reflection, polarization, and diffusion. Additionally, each of the six floors was presented in a dominant wavelength color from the visible light spectrum, with higher wavelengths on higher floors. The primary color code of a floor drives the palette for graphics and quotes on that floor. Naming conventions for bookable conference rooms use names tied to that floor's color ("haze" meeting room is on purple floor). Black, white, and gray are used for the graphics and signage that repeat on all six floors.

Jury Comments: 

"This project represents a strong sense of corporate brand without the obvious use of logo. It communicates an attitude of purpose and culture while successfully integrating movement, placemaking, and destination."

Design Firm: 

HOK Visual Communications


Nortel Networks

Location City: 

Santa Clara, California

Project Area: 


Open Date: 


Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 


Design Team: 

Craig Hein, Mark Askew, Hal Kantner, Diana Gonzalez, Angela Zwink




Vision 20/20

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