Launch Slideshow

Science Storms

Science Storms

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    J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

    Science Stormsat the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is a dramatic and interactive environment where guests of all ages can explore the physics of light and the science behind powerful forces of nature.

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    J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

    The architectural lighting design and the design for four of the exhibits that deal with the physics of light, help inspire young scientists to look deeper into the world of lighting to understand the world around them.

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    J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

    Science Storm reveals the science behind seven natural phenomena—lightning, fire, tornados, avalanches, tsunamis, sunlight, and atoms in motion. Guests can investigate the basic scientific principles behind nature's power as they try more than 50 amazing experiments that take two floors and 26,000 square feet to contain.

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    J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

    Liquid Wave Dynamics are shown with spotlights shining 60 feet down through large liquid-filled disks to project ripple patterns on the floor.

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    J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

    Guests interact with the wave shadows.

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    J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

    Light Behavior is both an exhibit about the principals of reflection and refraction, and a work of art. Based on the work of a Berlin-based light artist, this pair of interactive exhibits uses moving prisms of dichroic glass, rotating reflective surfaces, and mirrored cylinders to create patterns of light and color. The effect is not only beautiful, but demonstrates the behavior of reflected light.

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    J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

    Colors from Light is a 14-foot-tall LED backlit room that teaches guests about wavelengths of light and color mixing. Here we see the interior of the room and the console, which controls the LEDs lights behind frosted acrylic panels, affecting our perception of the color of the disks.

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    J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

    The heliostat in the Sunlight Exhibit uses natural or electric light depending on weather conditions and time of day. Here we see the exhibit using natural light to create amazing color range with prisms.

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    J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

    The Tsunmai exhibit explores the force of water. The Light Behavior cube is seen in the background.

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    J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

    The dynamism of the exhibit is apparent as the Tesla Coil replicates bolts of lightning is in the forefront.

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    J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

    The sense of collaboration between the museum and the designers helped make Science Storms a space where guests, especially children, can become enraptured by the physics and the beauty of light.

 

Science Storms, a permanent exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, was the dream job for a lighting designer. The museum requested the creation of a “child fantasy world” full of installations that explore the science behind powerful forces of nature, including a 40-foot-tall tornado of swirling vapor and light.

From a lighting perspective, Focus Lighting, who worked in collaboration with Evidence Design, was challenged with creating the space's surrounding illumination—a sort of amniotic fluid of light—and highlighting each display. Focus achieved this by establishing 16-foot-tall, 7-inch-deep light cavities outfitted with high-power linear blue LEDs covered with custom-perforated metal fronts, and ceiling coves equipped with T8 fluorescent lamps with blue color gels. The blue R68 color between light sources was matched to achieve a seamless look.

The institution also asked Focus Lighting to fashion four exhibits that examine the physics of light. “The idea of inspiring a 10-year-old child to be excited by physics experiments was a monumental challenge,” explains Paul Gregory of Focus Lighting.

Focus' exhibits include “Colors from Light,” a 14-foot-high backlit room that teaches visitors about wavelengths and color mixing, and “Sunlight,” in which an automated 10-foot-square heliostat reflects a shaft of sunlight into the exhibition hall where visitors use prisms to recreate Sir Isaac Newton's experiment. When the sun goes down or is covered by clouds, an 800W custom metal halide lamp takes over, replicating our star's light to an undetectable degree. It's another reminder that with the right luminaire and some creative thinking, the possibilities for lighting design are almost boundless.

Jury Comments: An exciting design. • It's a place you want to visit. • Light and a bold use of color help to define what could have been a hectic space.