Boston, MA

The new Dining Center at Emerson College draws its design inspiration from the theatre, which is appropriate for the student body of this communications and drama school. The architecture embodies elements of a traditional stage: exposed brick walls, visible ductwork and abstract prosceniums inserted along the length of the space. As it does in a theater, the lighting adds the finishing touch, gracing these forms with color, dimension, and character.

On the ground floor, linear fixtures articulate the wooden arches supporting the ceiling. Linear pendants alternate with these illuminated arches to create a graphic sequence that extends across the dining area. A brightly-lit stair draws students to the lower level for additional dining and seating options.

The highlight of this lower level is a flexible event space. Large hoop fixtures create a dynamic ceiling composition that adds drama and sparkle. Interspersed among the hoops, luminous textile ceiling fixtures use programmable video feeds to provide endless colors, patterns and moods. By day, the space is a comfortable and lively gathering place for students to study and interact. At night, the lighting transforms the space into a cabaret, ideal for performances or after-hours socializing.

Whether integrated into the architecture or highlighted as a feature element, the lighting solution is both flexible and expressive, aptly reflecting the school’s culture.


  • IALD Award of Excellence

  • LIT Awards - Winner, Hotel & Restaurant Lighting Category

  • IES Illumination Award of Merit - Interior Lighting


Elkus Manfredi Architects


Peter Vanderwarker; McDonald Electrical Corp.