Gearbox Software

Lighting creativity and collaboration in a “dark” gaming software company

Gearbox Software is an independent developer of interactive entertainment with a mission “To Entertain the World”. Avid gamers will be familiar with the company’s best-known games, including Brothers in Arms and Borderlands. When Gearbox moved into a new head office in the suburbs of Frisco, Texas, the goal was to create a space that reflected its creative, risk-taking culture.

Gearbox HQ would occupy the top 3 floors of a purpose-built 6-storey building, and tasked architecture and engineering firm Page to design and manage construction of its 90,000 sq.ft. office space. The design intent was to create a look and feel inspired by Gearbox’s games: “dark, brooding, apocalyptic” said Aimee Burmaster Hicks, a principal at Page and lead designer for the project.

The Page team utilized design elements such as color palette, angled ceilings, unusual wall elements, and lighting to emulate the game aesthetics. Discussing the lighting in particular, Hicks explained that Page avoided a blanketed approach, applying different lighting levels where appropriate. Hicks and her team recognized an opportunity to mimic the Gearbox ‘game’ feel in the corridors and public spaces, striving to create a “dramatic, uneven and even a bit unsettling effect.”

Eureka Lighting’s Aperture luminaire was selected for the main circulation paths. Close to 200 fixtures are spread over the three floors, in both 24” and 36” sizes. Finding a large-scale fixture to fit the design requirement was difficult, but Aperture fit the bill. The designers also appreciated its availability in two different sizes, providing flexibility to illuminate different areas while maintaining a consistent design visual.

Aesthetically, Hicks explained, “we wanted the fixtures to be as subtle and discreet as possible so that the lighting itself would stand out.”  The large hollow core of the Aperture luminaire ensures the LED illumination is the focal point; the interior surface’s matte white coating reflects the light, creating a soft even glow down onto the space below. The light source is essentially invisible so employees experience no glare as they pass through the corridors. And Aperture’s anthracite-colored exterior blends seamlessly with its surroundings, whether it’s hanging from the corridor’s concrete ceiling among the exposed duct work or set against the backdrop of pale wood accents in the main lobby or employee break areas.

“The fact that Gearbox designs, produces and self-publishes games makes its space unique from most typical corporate workspaces,” said Hicks. “Primarily the employees we were designing for were either studio artists or computer coders – two very disparate functions sharing the same work space. The artists wanted natural light; the coders wanted complete darkness. Finding that balance was tricky.”  Aperture’s custom LED light engine with a dimming driver enables employees to adjust lighting levels where required.

Energy efficiency was also a consideration, necessitating the use of LED luminaires. Aperture’s high-performance LED strips ensure the fixtures will keep energy costs in line.

Hicks concluded that Eureka Lighting’s Aperture was a great solution for this project, meeting the aesthetics, sizing, dimmability and energy efficiency parameters to which they had to design. The bold design and warm lighting contribute to an environment of creativity and collaboration as the Gearbox Software team develops its next award-winning product. Whether the employees are gathering for an impromptu meeting, participating in a brainstorming activity, or simply kicking back in a “recharge” area, they can do so in a unique, dynamic, and well-lit environment. 



Gearbox Software

Frisco, Texas, USA

Designer:  Page

Eureka Agent: ALA Texas

Opened:  October 2015

Photo Credit: Paul Ober