SunPower, a Silicon Valley based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, panels and systems, is a company whose commitment to renewable energy is seen as both a moral obligation and an economic driver. However, it was a commitment that was virtually invisible in their existing interior – a space built out for a Silicon Valley chip maker where the preferred color was a grey tone that in no way implied the power of the sun.
Working on an extremely tight budget and schedule, a campus of three one-story buildings of roughly 186,000 SF was leased. The design assignment was to express the commitment to renewable energy throughout the interior. But energy is invisible and PV cells are not animated objects; they are platforms for silicon wafers that convert the sun’s energy to electricity.
Our strategy was to build the entire interior design around both light and the absence of light. Skylights bringing in natural sunlight have been added, and a variety of lighted coves, soffits and architectural fixtures “paint” the space with light as a visual expression of the energy the PV cells collect.
The space consists of open office workspace arranged around meeting spaces, private and informal. The project visually connects the research and development of SunPower with the open office space by dividing the spaces with glazing. Large wall graphics featuring the company’s brand and photovoltaic cell installations from around the world were designed and installed in more than 50 conference rooms, the lobby, several break rooms and training areas.
With the low-rise nature of the campus, an array of PV cells covers the roof and PVs cover large areas of the parking. On the exterior, these changes announce the commitment to renewable energy generating 2 Megawatts of power.
Designed by Valerio Dewalt Train
Photography © David Wakely & Romina Tonucci