Completed in March 2015, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate serves a dual purpose. First, it is a memorial to honor the legacy of the late senator Ted Kennedy, who served 47 years in the United States Senate. Second, it is an institution that is “dedicated to educating the public about the important role of the Senate in our government.”
Located on Columbia Point in Boston, overlooking Boston Harbor and adjacent to the JFK Presidential Library and Museum, the Kennedy Institute was designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects. The building, a box within a box, follows a minimalist style. New York–based One Lux Studio was tasked with realizing the lighting design—a “careful composition of different layers and tones of light on muted finishes.” Adding to the project’s complexity was the exhibition design, which includes a full-scale replica of the U.S. Senate chamber, the centerpiece of the building.
The geometry of the architecture is evident in the lobby. A skylight brings natural light into the space and delineates the perimeter white sloped-ceiling from the gray sloped-ceiling surface that acts as an exaggerated cornice for the stone memorial wall, a wall that also serves as the entry into the senate chamber. Modified LED-lensed wallwashers are recessed in the sloped ceiling in front of the wall and create only the slightest of reflections on the stone surface.
As the exhibition spaces continue to each side of the memorial wall, the skylight transforms into an LED light cove. Because all of the exhibits are digital and projected onto the surrounding walls, natural light would have obscured the displays. To ensure visibility and uniformity, light levels are held to 20 lux.
In the senate chamber replica, the lighting recreates the look and feel of the actual chamber. There are custom wall sconces at the balcony and a unique glass laylight system at the perimeter of the space which puts light on the balcony wall.
At night the building comes alive in a subtle color temperature shift that creates a visual hierarchy of light. The forecourt walls are lit with 3000K metal halide in-grade uplights to match the color temperature of the lobby light. Bollards with custom-designed glare shields provide light for the front walkway. The main entry path is flanked by 50 bollards, one for each state, that each use 3200K. In the background, the dark gray metal-enclosure of the senate chamber appears to float above the building and is highlighted by 16 400W 4100K metal halide spotlights. The visual progression from ground to sky and the associated color temperatures—3200K to 4100K—provides a visual clarity while creating a unified and contemplative composition.
Project: Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate, Boston • Client: Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate, Boston • Architect: Rafael Viñoly Architects, New York • Lighting Designer: One Lux Studio, New York • Team Members: Jack Bailey, Yasamin Shahamiri • Photographer: Halkin Mason Photography • Project Size: 68,000 square feet • Project Cost: $78 million • Lighting Costs: Withheld • Watts per Square Foot: 1.13 • Code Compliance: ASHRAE 90.1-2007 • Manufacturers: Acuity Brands/Winona Lighting, Bega, iGuzzini, Philips Color Kinetics, Targetti
There is a softness about the lighting. • The exterior lighting is exceptional in the way it handles the shift in color temperature.