Friday, December 4, 2009

Wave Theory

Publication date: November 1, 2009

By Megan Casey

Amanpreet Birgisson's concept for her luminaire design project was to create a fixture that could be configured in multiple patterns to create a visually dynamic surface for both interior and exterior spaces.

For the past four years, graduate-level interior design students at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington D.C., have been introduced to the basics of lighting design by Andrea Hartranft, senior associate at Alexandria, Va.–based C.M. Kling & Associates. “The goal is to teach them to think about lighting as an integral component to architecture, to provide them with a vocabulary and an understanding of the physics and technology associated with lighting design, and to increase their appreciation of the psychological and physiological effects of lighting on the occupants of a space,” Hartranft says. That would be enough for most, but during the fall 2007 semester, one student—Amanpreet Birgisson—came away with a bonus: seeing her design put into production.

Each semester, students in Hartranft's class are presented with a luminaire design project that asks them to “design a pendant or sconce that is functional and buildable.” Starting with a sketch she had produced for a color theory class, Birgisson conceived her project, “Modular Tile Luminaire System,” as a wall-mounted fixture that can be rotated, arrayed, and interconnected in various combinations to create a visually dynamic surface. A two-dimensional geometric pattern is transformed into a three-dimensional grid that “provides overlapping convexes and concaves for soft shadows and reflections,” Birgisson explains. An LED module concealed in a cavity between the surfaces creates a sophisticated play of light and shadow that multiplies as the modules are repeated.

Michael Arndt, industrial designer for Milwaukee-based Visa Lighting and jury member at the project review, was so impressed with Birgisson's design that he suggested that the company put it into production. “It was obvious from her presentation that Amanpreet had spent a lot of time researching and developing the concept into a viable product,” says Jimalee Dakin, vice president of sales and marketing at Visa. “She had a complete package that included concept sketches, a detailed 3D computer model, and she had specified a practical LED light source.” As a result, Visa was able to develop it into what is now the Wave product line, introduced in May at Lightfair.

Visa Lighting
The actual luminaire on display.

The production fixture differs only slightly from Birgisson's original concept. While the form and proportion remain unchanged, the original 9-inch dimension was modified to a 11-inch tile and a smaller 5.5-inch version, which is useful as a steplight. Birgisson's white-glazed industrial porcelain material also was replaced with die-cast aluminium, a more practical option for both mass production and ease of application since it is not as heavy and prone to chipping.

The choice of the light source—LEDs—also made it a good prospect for production. “Using LEDs fit in well with my general design inclinations,” Birgisson explains. “Its low heat generation was attractive; the small size of the diode was perfect to keep the [profile of the] tile protrusion slim; the longevity of the LED was essential; and the low energy consumption was a bonus.” The Wave also takes advantage of LEDs' wide range of color possibilities by including static and variable color options in addition to white light for the integral LED module.

Recognizing the value of a manufacturer's input for her students' luminaire design project, Hartranft's decision to invite Visa Lighting to the project review proved quite beneficial to both the student and the lighting company. Birgisson's work was given the exposure it needed to be transformed into an actual luminaire, and Visa Lighting gained a promising new fixture to add to its lineup of existing product offerings. What did Birgisson learn from this experience? “To always act upon [your] ideas and work towards their articulation,” she says. “And, more importantly, to always filter creativity through a tempering lens of utility.” A valuable lesson indeed, both in and out of the classroom.

Studio/Course Interior Lighting Design
Semester Fall 2007
School Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington, D.C.
Faculty Member/Adviser Andrea Hartranft
Student Amanpreet Birgisson
Manufacturer Visa Lighting
Rendering Amanpreet Birgisson
Photo Visa Lighting

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fabric samples

From top:
daylight (overcast sky)
T5 compact flourescent bulbs-ambient lighting in residential kitchen
60 watt type A bulb-small desk lamp used for task lighting in bedroom
4 60 watt incandescent bulbs-used as ambient and task lighting for a bathroom vanity

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A neglected urban space is transformed into a place of wonder

Publication date: November 1, 2009

By Aaron Seward

Eduard Hueber

The series of access bridges (three were built in 1950 and a fourth added in 1961) that link the Lincoln Tunnel with the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York have long created a dank and uninviting area along Ninth Avenue. But that now has changed, thanks to an inventive lighting strategy developed by New York–based Leni Schwendinger Light Projects in collaboration with architecture firm PKSB. Fifteen years in the making, the Triple Bridge Gateway project speaks to lighting's ability to transform neglected spaces and capitalize on the beauty of urban infrastructure. “The idea was to create a luminous room where once there was a dark abyss,” Schwendinger says.

The project's design dates back to 2004 (see “Urban Light,” April/May 2004), when lighting enhancements were integrated into an already scheduled rehabilitation of the 50-plus-year-old ramps. Schwendinger found inspiration in the urban environment, crafting the project as an homage to the city's industrial vernacular and incorporating the way that sunlight reflects off glass buildings. Her first step was to call out the bridges' infrastructural elements by coating them in different colors, making the spans visually legible to commuters and pedestrians. Since colored lights would have bled together, Schwendinger used white light from T12 linear fluorescent fixtures to illuminate the painted surfaces.

Eduard Hueber

The lighting also works with the architect's solution to wrap the sides and underside of each ramp in a containment system of stainless-steel chain-link scaffolding. This containment system solves the problem of providing maintenance access and it also is used as a light scrim. In addition, a series of highly polished stainless-steel panels are hung beneath the bridge ramps, illuminated by 1000W metal halide lamps mounted on the adjacent buildings. Light skims the mesh and the panels, casting dappled reflections onto the street below.

The project also is mindful of the passage of time. An electronic control system creates compositions that range from a minimal illumination of the bridges' beams to an all-out spectacle of color and flash. Either way, the project stitches together a neighborhood that has long been divided.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

restaurant lighting

These pictures are from a restaurant called the Stonewood Grill in Cary. The lighting throughout out is very low level to create an intimate, cozy atmosphere. The paintings on the walls are highlighted with recessed lights. The walkways are also illuminated with semi-indirect recessed lighting. Wall grazing is used to highlight the texture of the stone walls on the interior as well as the exterior. Over each of the tables there are recessed can lights which provide direct task lighting to the work plane.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Lesson In Daylighting

Publication date: May 9, 2006

By A|L Staff

Three of the Northwest's experts on energy efficiency prove what daylight can do.

» As sustainability and energy efficiency have come to occupy an ever-greater role in mainstream architecture, no building type has embraced these principles more than schools. Maybe it is a result of the reported higher test scores that come when students learn in naturally lit classrooms, or the reduced operating expenses that ease the burden of constricted education budgets. No matter the motivation, the Northwest is now dotted with elementary, middle, and high schools that offer better learning environments and significantly reduced operating expenses through sustainable high-performance design.

Recently, a trio of the Northwest's foremost experts on energy-efficient design resolved to build a full-scale mockup of a K-12 classroom: G.Z. Brown, professor of architecture at the University of Oregon and director of the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory in Portland and Eugene, Oregon; Mike Hatten, principal of SOLARC Architecture and Engineering; and Heinz Rudolf, principal with BOORA Architects and designer of several nationally renowned LEED-rated Northwest schools. Responding to utility company and lighting designers' doubts that a high-performance classroom could be constructed using available light and outside air so that no electric lights, heating, or air conditioning would ever be needed during the day, the three came together to create a classroom that adeptly employed these principles. They also wanted to prove that such a space could be built and priced at a lower cost than the current standard construction rates for a regular K-12 classroom.

Their approach starts with a wide skylight in the middle of the room. But this is no ordinary skylight. 'In order to meet the required light levels on overcast days you need a large opening,' Brown explains. 'But that means the rest of the time, it's too big.' As a result, the skylight, constructed of polycarbonate, is outfitted on top with a succession of integrated louvers that automatically adjust based on sensor readings, opening and closing in relation to the amount of available sunlight, so that a minimum interior light level of 20 to 40 footcandles (a range chosen by the team because it represents existing national and international standards) is maintained at all times during daylight hours.

Another issue of concern was the distribution of light from the center to the perimeter areas of the classroom. A specially designed apparatus called the 'halo,' a rectangular-shaped fixture that hangs below the central skylight, addresses this. Each of its four sides consists of translucent cellular plastic that reflects a portion of the light from above onto the ceiling and walls. 'The edge of the classroom gets two sources of light: from the skylight, called the sky component, and reflected light off the halo and ceiling,' Brown explains. 'The middle of the room gets light reflected around the room and light that penetrates through the halo.'

Part of what Brown, Hatten, and Rudolf hoped to illustrate with the prototype was that a classroom could be lit during the day without any electric light. The team based this premise on the assumption that classrooms are primarily occupied only during these hours, but because there are times when K-12 facilities are used at night, Brown and his team decided an electric source was also needed to round out the halo's functionality. 'What contributes to the cost of a lighting system is the number of fixtures that the wires must travel to,' Brown continues. 'So we used one big light, put it in the middle of the room, and shined it toward the ceiling.
Mount Angel classroom prototype
We light the whole space with just that one fixture, a 450W HID pointed upward.'

The classroom that Brown, Hatten, and Rudolf envisioned has been built on the Mount Angel Abbey campus in Saint Benedict, Oregon, about an hour's drive from Portland. Although the team always intended for its idea to move from model to full-scale mockup, it owes its speedy realization to happy circumstance. During a visit to the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory in Portland, architect Kent Duffy, principal at SRG Partnership, saw Brown studying a model of the classroom. Intrigued, Duffy asked about using the prototype classroom concept for a new academic building consisting of classrooms and offices SRG was designing at the seminary. The Mount Angel Abbey Academic Center is currently under construction, slated for completion by end of summer 2006. Meanwhile, the full-scale mockup remains available for testing purposes and is housed in a warehouse at the school.

The results of the Mount Angel prototype are impressive. 'We're looking at some fairly phenomenal Energy Use Index numbers,' Hatten says of the seminary building's classrooms, based on monitoring of the prototype. 'We're projecting 28,400 BTUs per square foot annually. The base-case code-compliant classroom would be 73,200. That's 62 percent better than code.' Brown believes that with additional insulation, energy savings could be even higher: as much as 70 percent better than code requirements.


Although the classroom mockup is complete, Brown and Hatten believe there is still opportunity for further experimentation. For example, the current version is designed to meet weather conditions specifically west of the Cascades, where the climate is moderate. Ultimately, it is hoped a modified configuration could be adapted to the range of temperatures east of the mountains, or perhaps another climate altogether. 'It is likely to require some aspect of supplemental heating and/or cooling,' Hatten says. The classroom layout is also geared specifically for single-story structures, but a version of the design could be adapted to two-story buildings using light shafts between the upper and lower floors.

Mount Angel classroom
The efforts of design experts like Brown, Hatten, Rudolf, and Duffy will continue, as more and more institutions embrace the opportunity for enhanced human performance and energy efficiency that comes with sustainable schools. The Mount Angel prototype is merely one step in a longer journey, but it is also something not to be forgotten anytime soon: the project proves that even in the Northwest, it is entirely possible to light, heat, and cool classrooms using only the natural resources of sun and wind. brian libby

A freelance writer living in Portland, Oregon, Brian Libby's focus is on architecture and film.

project Bazacle Causeway, Garonne River, Toulouse, France
lighting designer Concepto, Bagneux, France
technical design Beture Infrastructure, Maisons-Alfort, France communication Agence MC3, Toulouse, France
installation engineers AMEC SPIE, Toulouse, France
civil engineers SPIE Batignolles, Cergy-Pontoise, France
photographer Roger Narboni, Bagneux, France
project size 886 linear feet
project cost approximately $600,000 (500,000 Euros)
watts 2W per fixture

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

October 7, 2009 @ 5pm

This week the sun is lower still and our balcony and living room is receiving even more light.

September 30, 2009 @ 5pm

You can see here that the angle of the sun is getting lower as it gets later in the season. Last week at this time the balcony above was blocking most of the sunlight, but this week you can see that the sun is at a lower angle and is reaching our balcony now.