Aughts, naughts, and oohhs. Is it any wonder no one could figure out what to call the past decade? Filled with great highs— and great lows—the 2000s are most likely to be remembered as a time of contradiction. The inevitable onslaught in the popular press of year-end “best/worst” lists, coupled with looks back at the decade, started me thinking about how this would translate to architectural lighting. Did I want to go down the murky road of creating a list of the year's best architectural lighting projects? Not really.
I'd like to think that the projects we feature throughout the year, on the pages of ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING and in the A|L Light & Architecture Design Awards, represent the best of the best. Add into the mix the other major lighting design award programs, such as the IALD International Lighting Design Awards, the GE Edison Awards, the IES International Illumination Design Awards, Cooper Lighting's Annual Source Awards, and the Lumens, and I think you have a pretty good read on the outstanding work of any given year.
Instead, I was intrigued by the idea of thinking about the milestone moments in lighting and lighting-related issues over the past 10 years. Certain newsworthy events automatically came to mind: notably the blackout of August 2003, when 50 million people from New York to Ohio, and north to Toronto, were abruptly left without power for several days thanks to a massive power-grid failure. The event drew major attention to the U.S.'s aging energy-supply system. While some improvements have been made, overall the nation's infrastructure continues to be at risk.
The great loss of esteemed lighting figures Lesley Wheel, Jules Horton, Sy Shemitz, and Paul Trively also stood out. Their knowledge and personalities are irreplaceable, but their legacies live on through the myriad lighting designers and institutions that they influenced during their careers.
On the technology front, lamps, luminaires, and ballasts continued to become more energy efficient. And lighting controls emerged as a major driver of energy savings. But if any one innovation were to sum up lighting technology of the past decade, it would have to be the LED. A game-changer for every sector of the lighting industry, LEDs leapt out of the starting gate, full of promise. Not all of that promise has been realized—at least not yet. The real challenge with LEDs has not been the technology itself so much as whether the lamp and luminaire companies will be able to cohabitate, and possibly even merge, with the semiconductor industry, which sees lighting as its next step.
When I outlined our 2010 editorial calendar, I wasn't thinking about meditations on the past, at least not consciously. But in hindsight, as I review the feature projects on the following pages, reflecting on the past as a way of figuring out the future is exactly what our Jan/Feb 2010 issue is all about. Sometimes, as with the Neues Museum in Berlin, one has to respect the past while staying true to the present, and the result becomes something truly original. In other instances, like the restoration of 860–880 Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, the past offers valuable lessons to draw from. And in the case of the Sargent Gallery at the Boston Public Library, sometimes the themes of history are so strong one must emulate it.
Even magazines grow and evolve. With this issue we introduce a new article type called “In Focus.” It replaces two previous articles—Design Focus and Method—which had come to their logical conclusion. In Focus will allow A|L to introduce more technical discussions into our repertoire, as well as lighting details and drawings.
The past 10 years also represent many significant moments for me personally, not the least of which is my career transition from architecture to lighting. Simply put, it's been fantastic. And the most exciting aspect of my work has been getting to know you—the lighting community. With a generosity of time and spirit, you are always here for ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING, and I hope your investment sees a return in these pages. The lighting industry faces many challenges in the year ahead (and beyond), but because of the special relationship between A|L and its readers, I'm confident that we can tackle them together. Here's to the next 10 years!