by Steven Holl Architects to reunite the two wings of Pratt Institute's School of Architecture left standing after a devastating fire in 1996, Higgins Hall's new central addition infuses modern character into the school's historic aesthetic and landmark status. Praised by the A|L Design Awards jury for its use of light as a way to understand the connection between the new contemporary structure and its Victorian flanks, the project was also noted for its high level of daylight integration.
Semi-transparent interlocking U-shaped structural channel glass comprises the four-story façade, through which the weathered brick of the existing adjoining wings is visible. For an academic program that requires 24-hour accessibility, the glass became a solution for the students' safety: the interior illumination within creates a nighttime glow, while broadcasting signs of activity.
Despite the visual distinction between the old and new structures from the exterior, the interior design is fluid. The lighting scheme, realized by Arc Light Design, is minimal yet sophisticated. In keeping with the geometric patterns throughout the entire hall, the center section is illuminated by several variations of one custom linear pendant, manufactured by Day-O-Lite. Suspended below the expanse of exposed concrete, these indirect fixtures highlight the ceiling's texture, while generating ambient light in the space. 'We wanted the lighting to be minimal, yet provide enough illumination for the students to be able to work,' explains David Singer, president of Arc Light Design. Enhanced by daylight via the glass façade and a double-throated skylight, the design produces an even and flexible indirect illumination that-with luminaires allowing for four brightness levels and the option to bring in task lamps-leaves room for students to create their own environment in the studio.
Other spaces in the new building include a lobby; an exhibition gallery, its walls lit with T8 fluorescent billboard fixtures; two classrooms; and a lecture hall, accessed through a corridor in the basement where continuous single-lamp T8 industrial channels are set into cast-concrete coves. From the lobby, a staircase leads to the basement, where a two-story space is illuminated by integrated dimmable tracklighting.
Higgins Hall central wing's minimalist lighting design emphasizes the structure's architectural composition and embodies an integration of elements that, while seemingly simple, create a well-orchestrated scheme. A|LJURY COMMENTS
Highly integrated and really covers all the bases. ••• It is incredibly well organized and orchestrated. ••• There is something about the simplicity in its means. ••• This design incorporates the use of light as a way of understanding the connection between the historic and contemporary elements of the structure. ••• It's the integration of all the elements that make this an exceptional project. ••• This is just really good quality design.DETAILSProject Location
Steven Holl Architects, New York (design architect); Rogers Marvel Architects, New York (architect of record)Lighting Designer
Arc Light Design, New YorkPhotographer
David Sundberg/EstoProject Size
22,550 square feetWatts per Square Foot
1.4 (first floor excluding gallery), 1.55 (studio on second and third floors), 1.1 (basement excluding lecture hall), 2.2 (lecture hall)Cost
$200,000 (interior and exterior lighting installed)ManufacturersColumbia Lighting
(fluorescent billboard wallwashers); Day-O-Lite
(all custom T8 fluorescent pendants); Elliptipar
(fluorescent uplights); Lightolier
(track and incandescent track heads); Lutron
(lecture hall dimming equipment)