“The catenary lights and tree canopy both create an overhead enclosure, so you feel like you’re in an outdoor room,” says Little’s Ryan Ives. “The light is even and soft. The cables disappear and, in a sense, so do the fixtures, and, instead, you notice the trees and the views across the courtyard.”
Real estate investment company Asana Partners approached Durham NC-based architecture firm Little to refresh Brightleaf Square, the centerpiece of the Brightleaf District, a mixed-use area in the heart of the Research Triangle. The courtyard at Brightleaf had been renovated in the early 2000s and was a beloved space to people living and working in the area, but, after 20 years, it was ripe for an update.
Careful to preserve original structure of the square, Little’s team created an intimate setting with publicly accessible seating, comfortable lighting, and softened with trees and plantings. The plaza space is framed by Link benches and Arne catenary lighting. Little was drawn to the industrial feel of the benches and lights, a fitting tie to Brightleaf’s history as a tobacco warehouse. Replacing large, ornate light poles with catenary lighting anchored to buildings visually clarified and opened the space.