Category Archives: AWA

AWA Newsflash: Abhay Wadhwa to Speak at AIA International Conference in Toronto

Abhay Wadhwa, Design Principal & CEO at AWA Lighting Designers will speak at the ‘Triangulate in Toronto’ Conference on Friday, October 21 2016 on “The Impact of Culture and Climate on Lighting Design Solutions.”

The following is the abstract from his talk:
A given culture’s position in the global economic development cycle is often reflected in its use of lighting in urban, night environments. Striking a balance between regional differences of culture and climate, and globalization is often a challenge. We will examine the variations in lighting, concepts, and solutions in response to the local culture and climate.

For complete information on the conference and stellar list of speakers please go HERE.

AWA NEWSFLASH: Abhay Wadhwa to Speak at AIA Miami Design+Technology Expo

Abhay Wadhwa to speak at AIA Miami’s Design + Technology Expo on Friday, September 23 2016.
He will be speaking on “The Unspoken Relationship Between Light and Health”. An extract from his talk:

“Light triggers critical physiological and psychological responses within human beings. The level and quality of light within the built environment has real implications on our health and wellness. As we become more aware of light’s implications on our health, and as technology affords us a greater range of options, we can develop a larger repertoire of design tools with which to positively impact our health and wellness.”

If you would like to register for the Expo, please click HERE.

AIA Miami Banner

AWA Healthy Lighting Studio
The Healthy Lighting Studio is located at AWA’s New York location, and is led by AWA’s Design Principal Abhay Wadhwa. Over the past 14 years, AWA has completed several healthcare projects, and the endeavor has always been to utilize the uplifting nuances of light to create evocative and healing spaces. We have focused intently on using light and lighting to improve the health and well-being of people, especially in healthcare and recuperative environments. If you would like more information on our Healthy Lighting Studio services, please contact us at or feel free to call Abhay directly.

Healthy Lighting Studio Banner 2016

What are the Philosophical Connections of Lighting to Culture?

Feng Shui says soft light creates a positive energy and the right conjunction of light, which is colour and direction promotes harmony and prosperity, relating it to the yin and yang symbol of harmony, where you need both.

In Vastu Shastra, colour, light and smell are often used to remediate inauspicious conditions in existing structures. It’s a fact that is probably known to all of us, and, it is encouraged to turn on all the lights in house at night, even briefly to expel all negative energy, I know lot of us are made to do that at Diwali so that Lakshmi comes and everyone’s got money, but I’ve had several friends who’ve come and said, “Yeah, my mother used to make me do that”. And, then there is of course the famous shloka from Rig Veda which is, “Asato ma sadgamaya”, and then, “tamaso ma jyotirgamaya.”

Somewhere along the line, in our culture, darkness became a bad thing, because darkness was seen as ignorance or lack of awareness, and light was seen as knowledge. Then, in the Jungian philosophy, it says the shadow is the reservoir for human darkness, as well as the seed of creativity. All of us creative people are really, according to Carl Jung, relying on the shadow in some ways. And then Sufism on the other side says, “Nothingness, which is darkness, is essential to attaining enlightenment”.

AWA NEWSFLASH: AWA Launches New Vertical – The Healthy Lighting Studio

The new Healthy Lighting Studio focuses on improving health and well-being with lighting. The Healthy Lighting Studio is located at AWA’s New York location, and is led by AWA’s Design Principal Abhay Wadhwa. The new vertical is an addition to the existing verticals at the AWA studios.

Over the past 14 years, AWA has completed several healthcare projects, and the endeavor has always been to utilize the uplifting nuances of light to create evocative and healing spaces. We have focused intently on using light and lighting to improve the health and well-being of people, especially in healthcare and recuperative environments.

Because of our several ongoing projects and our personal interest in this topic, we have started a new design and research vertical at our studio, where we will continue to develop mainstream design applications for the greater public good. The intent is to provide a holistic response for the visual environment, providing services such as lighting design, color therapy design, visual graphics & way-finding design, lighting technology retrofit upgrades, and EMF/RFI analysis.

Project Types:

  • Special Needs
  • Assisted Living
  • Hospital Patient Rooms
  • Recuperation Centers
  • Wellness Spas

If you would like more information on our services please contact us at or by calling Abhay directly.

View from Entrance Lobby at Medicity Medanta - AWA uses backlighting for stone wall and indirect lighting for circulation

View from Entrance Lobby at Medicity Medanta – AWA uses backlighting for stone wall and indirect lighting for circulation



A 24-hour lighting for improving life for Older Adults, undertaken by the Lighting Research Center

A 24-hour lighting for improving life for Older Adults, undertaken by the Lighting Research Center

Healthy Lighting: Spotlight on Assisted Living

  1. Understanding of Circadian Lighting
    • Circadian light differs from the generally conceived definition of visual light in that it refers to the affect of lighting on the human circadian system, as opposed to light as a stimulus for the human visual systems.
    • Optimal functioning of the circadian timing system is imperative for good health and can be assisted with proper lighting systems. For appropriate designing of lighting and the associated SPD’s, we depend upon the Circadian Stimuli (CS) that each light offers. Simply defined, the light output or the light levels are not as important in this situation, as the CS factor of each light.
    • Humans have developed an endogenous timing system that optimally synchronizes physiology and behavior (e.g. rest/activity cycles)
    • The timing of our daily biological functions are organized and orchestrated by the master circadian clock. This is hosted by the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) in the hypothalamus
    • The SCN orchestrates circadian rhythms in behavior and physiology via endocrine and neural pathways.
    • The Circadian System (“circa”, around; “dies”, day) has two fundamental characteristics:
      • Endogenous rhythmicity with a period of approximately 24 hours that persists independently of oscillations in external factors such as the light/dark cycle
      • The ability to have its timing shifted by external factors such as light and nutrient intake
    • The importance of the circadian system is exemplified by the observation that circadian disruption leads to an array of disorders (eg; sleep disorders, impaired glucose regulation & obesity) and decreased life expectancy
    • Specifying of dynamic white LED lighting that can be adjusted for higher Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) in the morning and lower CCT in the evening time that can assist in reinforcing the circadian rhythm.


  1. Architectural Lighting
    • By understanding how lighting can compensate for common changes that happen to the aging eye, designers can improve the quality of life of older adults in assisted living facilities. Some of those factors where lighting can be used to improve the quality of life:
      • Development of light levels to meet the IESNA recommended levels
      • All lighting to be provided with minimal source brightness. Glare control accessories to be provided where required.
      • The use of dynamic white LED lighting can allow the lighting to respond to the changes in the inhabitant’s environment.
      • Lighting to be provided with sustainable light sources such as LED and CFL to maximize energy efficiency and provide cost savings.
      • The selection of material finishes can increase the ability of the lighting to blend in with its architectural environment.
  1. The Portals of Light

This is a proprietary AWA design solution developed especially for Assisted Living spaces, but this solution also remains pertinent for Special Needs patients (Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Autism etc.)

  • Provides quality lighting design solutions for both circadian and architectural lighting in transition locations (vestibules, foyers, lobbies, etc.). This helps in reducing the jarring impact that change in light levels brings to the residents in Assisted Living spaces. This system comes with a plug-n-play modularity that can be moved easily. It can be used to retrofit existing locations, or used for new construction.
  • By improving the lighting in these transitional spaces, we can provide improved healthcare for all inhabitants, especially those who are not as mobile.



  1. 2013 Fall; 7(1):60-78. Senior living environments: evidence-based lighting design strategies.
  2. RP-28-07. Lighting for the Visual Environment for Senior Living (ANSI Approved)
  3. Mariana G. Figueiro. 2001. Lighting the way: a key to independence. Lighting Research Center.
  4. M ariana G. Figueiro. 2013. A 24 Hour Lighting Scheme for Older Adults. Lighting Research Center.

Image Credit: Lighting Research Center (A 24 Hour Lighting Scheme for Older Adults)

Healthy Lighting: Spotlight on Patient Rooms

  1. Lighting Design Approach
    • The lighting must be developed as part of a holistic approach to the design of the patient’s room. The lighting design strategy, hardware, and controls must work with all of the other systems to optimize the level of care and the comfort of the patient.
    • Developing this lighting design approach becomes akin to building a kit of parts which can be developed across a hospital or healthcare facility as a whole, thereby reducing maintenance needs and providing a consistent light quality.
  1. Lighting Response to Specific Types of Patient Rooms
    • Typical Patient Room
      • Indirect ambient lighting with low glare light fixtures.
      • Focused reading lights located behind the patient’s head.
      • Low illuminance nightlight to illuminate path to bathroom.
      • Low illumination observation lighting to be provided on either side of the patient bed where electronic recorded keeping takes place.
      • Wet rated, non-conductive, vandal resistant shower lighting to be provided.
    • Examination Rooms
      • Fully adjustable recessed lighting should be provided to be able to examine a full range of patient needs. Fully recessed wipe-down lights are recommended for reducing the spread of bacteria and germs.
      • Provide recessed downlighting:
        • Prevents the light source being seen from normal lines of sight (cutoff angle between 40° and 50° from horizontal).
        • Greatly reduces the possibility of hazards.
        • Makes maintenance and cleaning of fixture easier.
        • Has a high value because it provides high efficiency at a lower cost.
      • Lighting must be provided with a level of redundancy in case of problems or emergency.
    • Clean Rooms
      • Surfaces of light fixtures should be fully recessed with minimal protrusion into room.
      • Light fixtures must be provided with anti microbial finishes.
      • Lighting fixtures must be rated for a clean room environment.
  1. Lighting Technology Needs
    • Provide a fully resilient design that it prepared for extreme events.
    • Lighting to be provided with sustainable light sources such as LED and CFL to maximize energy efficiency and provide cost savings.
    • Provide lighting solutions that increase the user’s connection with nature. Therefore improving the end users mental health; reduce stress and overall improvement of their well-being.
    • High Color Rendering Index (CRI) to be provided to ensure the healthcare physician can accurately evaluate the patient.
    • All lighting to be provided with minimal source brightness. Glare control accessories to be provided where required.
  1. Lighting Control Needs
    • All Lighting to be provided with dimming control that can smoothly dim the lighting to permit low light levels at night to minimize eye adaptation.
    • Patient to be provided with illuminated switches to control certain lighting:
      • Ambient lighting with a recommended lighting level of 10 footcandles (fc)
      • Reading lights with a recommended lighting level of 50 fc
      • Shower lighting with a recommended lighting level of 30-50 fc
    • Doctors/Nurses to control certain lighting
      • Examination lighting with a recommended lighting level of 100-300 fc
      • Nightlight to be on switch or photocell with a recommended lighting level of 3 fc
      • Observation lighting to be provided with dim red amber light switched at the door.



RP-29-06. Lighting for Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities (ANSI Approved)


AWA Newsflash: AWA Wins 2016 IES North America Award of Merit for FIFC Mumbai

IESNAAWA wins 2016 IES North America (IESNA) Award of Merit for the lighting design of First International Financial Center (FIFC) in Mumbai.


view from across main road


Client:     Earnest Tower Pvt. Ltd., The Chatterjee Group (TCG)

Architect:    Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF) NY

Lighting Consultant:    AWA Lighting Designers

Local Architect:    Gherzi EasternSomaya & Kalappa Consultants Pvt. Ltd.

Facade Consultant:    Axis Facades
Location:    Mumbai


AWA Lighting Designers is pleased to share exciting project news about First International Financial Center (FIFC). The International Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) has presented AWA with a 2016 Award of Merit for our lighting design of the FIFC project. AWA is honored to receive this recognition of meritorious contribution to lighting design.

To see more images and read more about the project, please Click Here

AWA-FIFC-IESNA 2016 Award of Merit

view of ground floor entrance lobby

view of ground floor entrance lobby

Recent Awards

We are also pleased to share that two AWA Projects have won recognition from the
International Property Awards.
Click here to view all 2015 award winners. 

  • Best Commercial High-Rise Architecture India
    Floreal Towers
    ACPL Design Ltd. 
  • Architecture Multiple Residence India
    One Bangalore West
    Palladium Constructions Private Limited (A Phoenix Mills Group Co.

Recent Press

AWA Lighting Designers is pleased to share exciting project news about our Bushwick Inlet Park in Brooklyn NY. ArchDaily, the world’s most visited architectural web site, has named Bushwick Inlet Park one of the Top 100 US projects ever. The project is among a diverse and exciting mix of projects nationwide, one of just six in New York City.

Congratulations to the entire team lead by Kiss + Cathcart Architects.

Please click the link below to watch the Bushwick Inlet Park film on AWA’s Light In Context Channel: on Vimeo and YouTube


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AWA Newsflash: Abhay Wadhwa Honored by NOMA

AWA Design Principal Abhay Wadhwa is Honored as a Distinguished Member by the
National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA).

Distinguished Members 2016

In an event hosted by NOMA this month in New York City, Abhay was humbled to join an accomplished group of 12 professionals nominated for “Distinguished Members for 2016.”

To read the featured article on Abhay released earlier this year, please Click Here

The NOMA honor comes shortly after Abhay was named as a special Honoree at the gala dinner by the Society of Indo-American Engineers & Architects (SIAEA) in November 2014.


Biophilia Essays: KAFD Parcel 4.11

KAFD4.11_perspectiveKAFD Parcel 4.11

The proposed façade of the building on Parcel 4.11 of the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is dramatically blanketed by a display of linear lights, which from a distance cohere into a single image. Considering the potential of the eight-storey feature, AWA proposed a number of possible alternatives to the status-quo, text-based functionality of typical billboards. The firm’s ideas included a “phases of the moon” project that would show visualization of Earth’s satellite, waxing and waning with the lunar cycle even while gradually moving across the face of the wall laterally. This realism of both cyclicality and side-to-side motion was motivated by, and sought to activate, the biophilic appeal of the moon as a source of light, security, and regularity for flora and fauna throughout human evolution. Extending the potential for biophilic imagery, AWA also proposed a creative design option displaying the “flight of the falcon,” a locally revered bird moving realistically across the face of the building.


A second aspect of the project afforded an opportunity for biophilic design: that of a 6-meter diameter custom light fixture to become the focal point of the building’s lobby space. AWA decided to create a moon chandelier, a 3-dimensional spherical matrix of spherical LED lights, again animated with the changing phases of the moon. In practice the fixture would at different times be darkened or illuminated in sections, with careful attention to the neatness (i.e. the lack of bleeding light) at the boundary between bright and dark. A series of diagrams for the custom fixture design can be seen below.


Biophilic Design

“Biophilic design” can refer to several trends in modern “green” design, but in most uses it indicates a design principle that goes beyond merely minimizing the impact of the built environment to create actual close contact between users and the “natural” world. By inviting nature into the design, whether through biomimicry, green curtain walls, extensive natural lighting (or simulations thereof), multi-species accessibility, or the like, a design reengages occupants with the environmental elements that may be inherently intertwined with our phylogenetic predispositions.

Zen and Jimotsu

In Japanese Buddhism, including Zen, and particularly in sculpture and painting, there exists an elaborate system of religious symbols known as jimotsu (or jibutsu). These symbols appear, often in the grasp of an associated deity, to signify different roles the deity may play in defending the Buddhist faith, teaching devotees, reprimanding deviants, and comforting the suffering. The list below details just a few of these, and gives hints to their relation to the concept of light in Buddhism. However, jimotsurarely appear exclusively in one context; they are seen together with various deities, and many have multiple meanings. The 1000-Armed Kannon, for instance, is often shown holding numerous of these elements and accessories.

  • Mirror
    Providing mere reflection, the mirror demonstrates the illusion of life, and thus the unenlightened mind that is captivated thereby. It can, however, be positively interpreted as a sign of the resolve to dispel that illusion.
  • Moon Disk (Gachirin)
    A perfect circular, usually white disk representing the full moon, the moon disk appears as a symbol of the perfect virtue and omniscience of the Buddha. In the Esoteric Buddhist “Kongōkai Mandala” nine deities are shown, each seated in a full-moon disk. The symbol is also held to have a curative influence on fever and a cooling effect on the body, and accordingly talismans of this symbol are used by those suffering from hyperthermic conditions. It is associated with the Bodhisattva of Lunar Radiance, “Gakkō.”
  • Sun Disk (Nichirin)
    In turn the sign of “Nikkō Bosatsu,” the Bodhisattva of Solar Radiance, is a circular, usually red disc. Whereas the moon disk sometimes is shown with a rabbit figure inscribed (the “moon rabbit” being an instance of cultural pareidolia similar to the West’s “man in the moon”), in the sun disk is sometimes seen the image of a three-legged crow-like bird. Believed to be curative of eye ailments and a dispeller of darkness, the sun disk is also used as a talisman called “Nissei Manishu,” for related medical purposes.
  • Wish-fulfilling Jewel
    This jewel appears as one or three, the latter case corresponding to the “Three Jewels of Buddhism:” Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Though symbolizing an incorporeal power to grant wishes, end suffering, and communicate Dharma (these gifts collectively conceived of as “wealth”), the jewel also appears within an aureole of flame. Also called the “Mani Jewel,” it was in the writings of Guifeng Zongmi that this symbol’s multiple interpretations were used to differentiate four major Zen schools. The Heze School was said to appreciate the jewel’s supposed shroud of blackness as but an illusory form of its brightness—luster and dullness being for them as one; the Hongzhou School said of this blackness instead that it was the very jewel itself, and the jewel’s “purity” was what was hidden; the Ox Head School would have said, according to Guifeng, that the jewel and its brilliant appearance were inherently empty; and the Northern School is claimed to have believed the jewel’s fundamental purity must be approached ever more closely by cleaning and polishing.

select research Copyright Mark Schumacher,