oncepts
C
Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc.

Winter 2014

Designing with Light
Lighting is one of the most influentia...
Exercise #1

Exercise #2

Take a moment to think of a comfortable
place you like to spend time. Visualize it in as
much de...
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Designing with Light

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Lighting is one of the most influential
elements of any space. Perhaps no other
factor exerts more influence over a subject’s
visual experience than light. It illuminates,
colors, soothes, and enlivens. Light can warm
or chill, blind or guide. It was in the beginning
and can be the finishing touch. Though light in
itself eludes our full comprehension or simple
definition, a talented lighting designer can
wield it to great effect to show off a building,
set an ambiance, or create a specific visual
environment.

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Designing with Light

  1. 1. oncepts C Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc. Winter 2014 Designing with Light Lighting is one of the most influential elements of any space. Perhaps no other factor exerts more influence over a subject’s visual experience than light. It illuminates, colors, soothes, and enlivens. Light can warm or chill, blind or guide. It was in the beginning and can be the finishing touch. Though light in itself eludes our full comprehension or simple definition, a talented lighting designer can wield it to great effect to show off a building, set an ambiance, or create a specific visual environment. What is Lighting Design? Lighting design is an intentional, informed process of selecting appropriate light fixtures (technically referred to as luminaires) and properly placing them to achieve a desired objective for appearance, form, and function. Simply stated, lighting design is planning how to illuminate a subject, whether that subject is an object, person, or space. The process requires collaboration, creativity, and practical problem solving; it is not randomly selecting and placing an assortment of fixtures and hoping for the best. Lighting as a Design Element Daylight Designers have been using light for many years now to help showcase their subjects and spaces, and it’s easy to see why. Any space or building can be lit to create incredible effects and influence the observer’s visual experience. Louis H. Sullivan, an American architect and important mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright, put it this way, “A building can fulfill no purpose, either utilitarian or artistic, without the use of light.” His statement indicates a strong connection between lighting and architecture. Lighting gives life to architecture. It establishes visual hierarchy and defines structure and space, creating interest, influencing mood, and providing the appropriate visual environment while elevating the viewer’s architectural experience. It is this aesthetic component of lighting that makes it so useful, and designers make use of two categories of light to complement their design themes: daylight and electric light. Lighting designers use daylight to bring a refreshing element to a particular space. With the sun as its source, daylight has a unique power designers can use to enhance occupant satisfaction, while raising productivity and conserving energy. Sunlight is essential for life, our health, and well-being. Lighting designers work with architects and engineers to take daylight from its usual places at building entrances and perimeter windows and introduce it into the deeper places of occupied buildings, to satisfy our innate need to be more connected with the world outside. Lighting designers employ creative technologies to make the most use of daylight, including clerestory windows, light shelves, and light tubes. These devices diffuse, reflect, or channel daylight without adding a lot of additional heat. In this way, the building also uses less energy for illumination and air-conditioning.
  2. 2. Exercise #1 Exercise #2 Take a moment to think of a comfortable place you like to spend time. Visualize it in as much detail as you can remember, and then answer the following questions: Now think of a place in which you avoid spending much time. Visualize it as you did for the previous exercise, and then answer these questions: • What makes this place pleasant? • oes the lighting contribute to your overall D comfort? • hat makes this space offensive or W uncomfortable? • s the light source warm, inviting, and I comfortable? • oes the lighting contribute to your D discomfort? • re the light levels appropriate? Are you A able to adjust the light levels? • hat type of lighting does this space W have? • re any walls, ceilings, or other surfaces A accented with lighting? • oes the space feel cold, sterile, or D unnatural? • s color used? I • s the space too bright or dim? I • ow would you change the lighting to H make the space warm and inviting? Color Electric Light Daylight can only be only a partial lighting solution because our lighting needs do not perfectly align with the rising and setting sun – enter electric light. Electric light has evolved over nearly 140 years. In addition to the incandescent lamp, other sources have been widely used: linear and compact fluorescent, low- and high-pressure sodium, metal halide, and halogen. Today one of the most promising light sources is the lightemitting diode (LED). The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that 36 percent of all lighting will be LED by 2020, and 74 percent by 2030. The wide acceptance of LED lighting technology has the potential to reduce lighting energy consumption by 50 percent. Innovations in lighting drive new technologies that seek to improve the old in a continual search for better ways to illuminate our world. Even today, lighting technology is rapidly changing and it is difficult to predict what future technology will be available in 10, 20, or 30 years. Another important aspect of light available to designers is color. Lighting designers use different color temperatures, or even light sources with color, to create a specific feel for their intended subject. In a coffee shop, designers use a warmer light (lower color temperature), say amber, to promote relaxation or comfort. By contrast, in an office environment, designers may use daylight and sources with mid-range color temperatures to enhance concentration. In modern office environments, designers often blend warm and cool (blue) light to promote health and productivity. Common areas are lit warmly to support comfort and reduce stress, while work areas make use of natural light during the day and cooler light at night to enhance productivity. In most cases, light sources with high color rendition are preferred because they illuminate their surroundings with the truest color. Color can also be used outside to add a sense of drama to a building’s façade or revitalize a historic bridge. Human beings respond to color, sometimes without being aware of its effects. When used appropriately, color can add beauty and visual interest. It enhances details and provides us additional information about our surroundings. LED light sources and digital control systems allow light sources to change from one color to another. Technology has made color more available, affordable, and easier to use. www.ftch.com/concepts Lighting’s Impact Clearly, lighting is central to an individual’s experience in an environment, and lighting designers are increasingly recognized as essential contributors to the overall design process. Building owners and managers are aware that good lighting design has the potential to add value, reduce costs, and enhance building performance; and that occupants and patrons prefer well-lit environments in which to work, shop, or recreate. Lighting plays a significant role in our daily lives. Good lighting design is the finishing touch; it ties all of an environment’s elements together to present a harmonious design. For more information regarding lighting design, please contact Roger Maddox, P.E. rmmaddox@ftch.com.

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