An important part of the design awards review process is the jury discussion. Debate about specific projects gives way to discussion about more general issues of architectural lighting design, everything from what constitutes good lighting to the different approaches of the various lighting industry design award programs.
With this year's entries and the high caliber of design represented, the jury had its work cut out for it. The lighting under review enabled the jury to delve into a highly detailed discussion, analyzing every facet of a project. In making the distinction between truly outstanding work and what the jury members felt represented a level of competency that should be expected as a baseline norm for good lighting, six projects were at the center of their attention. Although these projects did not, in the end, receive awards, each one had particular elements that resonated with the group, and it is worth taking a moment to mention these features because they represent important discussion points within the larger context of architectural lighting design.
The first project that ignited extensive discussion was the Brooklyn Central Library. The jury found the incorporation of modern lamp technologies recessed within existing architectural details a clever solution for the renovation of this landmarked building. However, the project documentation left the jurors unsure as to how the adjacent refurbished historic street lighting came into play with the light levels on the building's façade.
Both Blue Frog, a nightclub lounge in Mumbai, India, and the Diane von Furstenberg (DVF) Studio Headquarters in New York posed similar questions regarding the role of strong architectural statements and how lighting responds. In the case of Blue Frog, the undulating landscape of dining booths was a compelling form, but with such a strong architectural feature, a more seamless integration of the lighting was expected. The DVF project also represented the challenge of a strong architectural element—a dramatic stair lined with crystals—but the building's colored nighttime façade illumination seemed to be disconnected from the project's daytime lighting approach.
Next, exhibit lighting at the Museum of Singapore was lauded for its inventive solutions in creating scenes, but exhibit lighting as a whole raised questions as to how this project typology should be evaluated in the context of the design awards categories. On the retail front, the jury was impressed with the lighting quality of the Elizabeth Arden store on Fifth Avenue in New York. Curved luminaires mimicked the interior architecture, but certain fixture selections surprised the jury in this otherwise clean retail space. Finally, while the dance studios of the Toronto Ballet School excel in their uniform illumination, the jury felt there was a dissonance between the lighting of the different scope of workspaces.
Time and time again the jury came back to the role that lighting and architecture play in creating complete environments that display a progression of light. Perhaps little comfort in not receiving an award, these projects are critical to the jury process. Without them, the jury would not have been able to complete its discussion and refine its selections.