RAYMOND KENT, President, Kent Design
I certainly feel that lighting design should be introduced early in the educational process. As a professional lighting designer that works in architecture and, the performing arts, and a former university professor, I am always amazed at the lack of knowledge of how light can effect mood, atmosphere, and quality of a project. My formal training is in theatrical lighting where these ideas along with technical theory are addressed ad nausea. As I work on projects I am constantly giving a lecture on the benefits of successful lighting design. I certainly don't mind since lighting is my passion but it would be helpful if there were a common language we spoke instead of the blank stares I usually get at the beginning (eventually the light bulb turns on and they get it). It has also been my experience that a good number of architects will pass the lighting off to Electrical Engineers who sometimes are more concerned about reaching a certain number of foot-candles on the floor then how the lighting sculpts the space or the effects on end users. Even worse in my opinion is the design/build scenario where the Electrical Contractor may be more interested in a profit or ease of installation and not necessarily good design. I think the statement in the proposed question of there being only a handful of programs that offer lighting as a discipline in itself is misleading and narrow in scope. There are many universities, colleges, and even performing arts high schools that offer lighting design as a discipline. I would strongly recommend that architecture and electrical engineering programs require there students to tap into these resources already available on campus if not include a few classes of there own on true lighting design not just lighting theory from a scientific or code compliance perspective (which are important too!). To me the most successful designs incorporate lighting well whether its 'seen' or not just as good stage lighting will help create a successful production. The educational process should step up to the plate and provide the resources to do so. The ones that do already - Bravo!
PAUL GREGORY, Design Principal,
The role of a lighting designer is becoming more and more important in design today. In architecture school the importance of lighting and its seamless integration into architecture should begin in the first class and carry through until the last day. The lighting designer must analyze the surfaces of a space and communicate to the architect what pictures the space is going to portray with different lighting treatments. The surfaces must be analyzed for their texture, reflectivity, and response to light, then assembled into a picture and delivered to the architect and design team.
Each space has a number of views, or pictures that people will see. It is important that each picture have a frame, a foreground, a background, and a focus. The lighting designer can help reveal architectural elements using light as its focus. This process of analyzing is getting more and more complex with the growing introduction of different types of materials, surfaces, and textures available to the architect.
ôAll we see is reflected light.ö In the teaching of architecture, light is as important as the classes in structures, architectural history, or theory. Lighting designers are only one part of a design team, yet creative lighting can me one of the main successes of a project. The interaction between the architect/designer and the lighting designer can be critical to the success of a project.
Architecture and design education should be teaching the importance of communicating with the lighting designer as well as with the rest of the design team. Schools quickly need to start offering more in lighting education. Degree programs that focus on lighting as a discipline need to teach the process of analyzing surfaces and how lighting treatments effect different surfaces and thereby effect the entire design. Basic lighting elements should also be taught early in architecture and design.
PETER M. WHEELWRIGHT, Chair, Department of Architecture, Interior Design, and Lighting, Parsons School of Design
The Department of Architecture, Interior Design and Lighting at Parsons School of Design recently matriculated the first class of lighting students into its new MFA program in Lighting Design. Among the more significant aspects of this program is that these graduate lighting students share both required and elective courses with the entering graduate architecture students. In addition to shared course work in history, theory, representation, etc., the lighting studio programs share content with the studio programs for the architecture students (e.g., sites, phenomenal and functional requirements, etc.) and are developed and taught jointly by the lighting and architecture faculty. Design studios for both graduate programs occur at the same time each week, allowing for further cross-pollination as students roam among the desks.
Yet, more importantly than helping lighting design and architecture students 'get to know each other', this new teaching structure at Parsons provides lighting students with immersion in the broad and rigorous nature of architectural education while offering architecture students exposure to the deeper possibilities inherent in an emerging field of design and inquiry.
Ultimately, however, the onus falls on lighting. For lighting design to achieve a competence that is recognized and valued by architects, it must mature as an academic discipline. Like architecture, it must begin to critically understand its own history, to openly theorize its practices, and imagine its role not as a service discipline but, rather, as making an important and necessary contribution to the production of social space. It must come into its own light.
JODY BROTHERSTON, ASID
During my education in graduate school, the professors NEVER taught lighting design, but suggested as interior designers, we call in a lighting designer. That is still happening at both the educational and professional practice levels. I have a great respect for lighting designers, but students need to learn more than a phone number.
As chair of an interior design program for 15 years, I was determined to make sure students understood lighting design. Although we did not have a separate course in lighting, it was addressed in all studio problems. Leading lighting designers were invited to visit the university, presenting lighting design fundamentals and working in the studio with students. It was an excellent experience, one I encourage architecture and interior design programs to develop.
The way to improve dialogue among these disciplines is to encourage a lighting course for architecture and interior design students. One way to implement an understanding of lighting is to require lighting design skills in educational accreditation standards.
HOWARD BRANDSTON, Principal, Brandston Partnership
Architects can take care of basic lighting requirements themselves. Lighting design is a collaborative art. The lighting designers do not create the spaces they light. They apply their 'art' to reinforce or enhance the purpose, function, enjoyment, or whatever of the space created by someone else. Unless the required solution needs a specialistÆs hand, why should the primary creators solution not suffice.
In 'formalized education' it would be good if architects were taught that the lighting they have learned is only basic, and that like architecture, they need to serve some 'apprenticeship' time before they can apply it on their own. This one step would heighten awareness of when a specialistÆs hand might be a benefit to their projects.
I do not know if we need any more 'concentrated' programs in light and lighting. What we do need is a more widespread set of courses, open to all - interdisciplinary - so all students learn an awareness of the role of light and lighting in their lives. This course should sit in the Humanities Department of every educational institution. This heightened awareness would do more to enhance the appreciation of lighting design than anything else.
Architectural programs could add significant value to the lighting they teach if they could bring in a guest lighting professional, one well recognized in the architectural community, to give a brief seminar. It would be well worth the cost when equated with the value the students would receive.
BRIAN STACY, Senior Lighting Designer, Arup Lighting
It seems most accredited architecture programs have some lighting component, if not full classes. Given the supply and demand of the industry, what we need is a betterment of the programs out there. I would like to see some of the programs push the creative boundaries with conceptual thinking about how light impacts architecture, perception, and usability. An area of weakness with many programs is not having robust enough technical aspects.
KEVIN SNOOK, Project Architect, Valerio Dewalt Train
The obstacle that architecture schools face is giving the best education through a balance of program material. The concept of light in architecture is critical; if it isnÆt presented as such, then perhaps that should change. Also, the number of lighting focused programs is likely related to demand.
A lighting consultant should be considered for most projects. The obstacle many architects face regarding lighting is time and money. Unless a project or client calls for it, it is hard to justify bringing on an added consultant. It is a process of educating clients.
So, whatÆs the solution? We learn application through on-the-job training. Just as architects have a mission to educate clients on architecture, so must architects, interior designers, industrial designers, and contractors learn from each other. To improve understanding of lighting, I propose providing effective lighting education to architects and interior designers in the form of industry marketing, periodical articles, journals, books, and seminars. I appreciate the work that lighting designers doùI just need more resources to make their work and the work I do happen together.
WILLIAM J. REDMOND Jr., JPI Greenman-Pedersen
And then there are the engineers. Until the IBC and local jurisdictions rammed ASHRAE 90.1 down architectsÆ throats, it was like pulling teeth to get architects to select more energy-efficient lighting. Too often the ôlookö is more important than the performance. I admit that my emphasis is on the performance, and I will readily defer to the architect or lighting consultant on aesthetic issues.
WILLARD WARREN, Willard L. Warren Associates
IÆve taught Illuminating Engineering to EEÆs and lighting design to interior designers and architects, and the only similarity is the vocabulary. Twenty-five years ago, Richard Hayden, Jules Horton, and I sat down with Leslie Wheel to discuss the subject of professional recognition for lighting designers. Dick, Jules, and I are registered professionals, and it seemed obvious to us that the IALD should seek such accreditation. Leslie dissented, pointing out that an exam with a lot of math would be required, and while we were proficient in that skill, she was not. But none of us could design the lighting of a hotel as expertly as she could. She said that Dick could visualize a grand space, and she could create the look he wanted, but depended on engineers like Jules and myself to tell her where the lumens would wind up. Leslie viewed lighting design as a collaborative venture, where skills are shared, and the combination of imagination, creativity, and engineering are all brought to bear.
Some years later, the Feltman Chair in lighting at the Cooper Union was created. Here, lighting is taught as an interdisciplinary subject to students from the schools of Art, Architecture and Engineering. Lighting design should be taught in an institution that allows interaction between these disciplines, because thatÆs what is necessary in the real world, and the earlier they get to collaborate with other professionals, the better the lighting designs will be and the better that common vocabulary will be understood by all.