Launch Slideshow

The Cushing Center, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.

The Cushing Center, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.

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    Entering the space, the visitor activates the display lighting that illuminates the collection, including the 400 jars of preserved human brain specimens.
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    Miniature warm-white LED striplights concealed at the bottom front edge of the custom cabinetry accents the collection and provides the primary glow.
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    At the end of the entry ramp, a glass display case of Dr. Cushing’s objects and memorabilia is illuminated with arrays of soft-recessed accent lights.
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    Turning back toward the entry ramp, the display lighting is supplemented by a wash of linear fluorescents sleeved with UV filters and taskligting on the study table.
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    Over the study table a cabinet of significant objects extends into the room nearly transparently, inviting close inspection.
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    The feature objects—the jars of brain specimens—are shelved in specially ventilated, custom millwork and lit from below with LEDs to meet low-heat and low-UV curatorial needs.
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    The lighting detail of a small LED strip mounted behind an angle bracket, resulted from careful drawings, calculations, and mock-ups using a specimen jar from the collection.
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    Additional archival manuscripts and precious books contained in the horizontal displays under glass in the surrounding lower cabinetry, is highlighted with integrated LED striplights that come on to a preset level by manual pushbutton and are turned off by an automatic timer.
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    The lighting balances vertical and horizontal display needs with a low-energy system that integrates with the architectural design and meets strict curatorial requirements.
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    From all angles, the visitor is immersed in a visual environment that uses display lighting to provide the ambient illumination for this space.
 

Like a cabinet of curiosities, the Cushing Center—home to Dr. Harvey Cushing's collection of human brain specimens, one of the most unique and significant medical collections of the 20th century—slowly reveals itself to visitors. The contents of each jar are highlighted thanks to a carefully regulated lighting system. Timed lighting for the display cases is activated via a pushbutton. These shelves house the focus of the collection: the large specimen jars with Cushing's original handwritten labels. Since the lighting designers were brought onto the project late in the process, after a significant portion of the design and shelving was already complete, they had to find a fixture that would provide sufficient illumination yet still fit in the shallow shelf depth. An LED strip with an integral reflector shield—then available in Europe and, because of this installation, expedited for a U.S. release—provides just the right amount of light to sensitively yet dramatically illuminate this one-of-a-kind collection.

Jury Comments: Great composition and display rhythm. • The details are very well done.