With more than 30 years experience in architecture and lighting, Hayden McKay is one of the leading experts in daylighting and solar analysis. Formally trained at the school of architecture at UCLA, McKay headed to the U.K. upon graduation to learn firsthand about new developments in daylighting metrics. With an innate understanding of how light interacts with architectural form, environmentally sensitive lighting design and energy conservation always have been the tenets of McKay's work.
How has architecture informed your viewpoint about lighting? I've always gravitated to architecture that is sensitive to nature and to architects who use natural light as an intrinsic design element. Wright, Kahn, Aalto, Le Corbusier, and Saarinen are still my favorites.
How has daylighting informed your viewpoint about lighting? Daylight and electric light are both part of a continuum of perception and form-giving. All the basic principles of lighting design apply.
What role does daylighting play in a project? Daylighting should uplift the spirit, even in the most mundane types of spaces. There are endless variations in color, direction, and intensity that can be formed and experienced. Balance that with the need for visual and thermal comfort, and sun control becomes an integral part of the lighting design.
What is the biggest misconception about daylighting? That natural light is better than electric light. They are different sources with different qualities and drawbacks. I'm not a fan of diffusing daylight so that the connection with nature is lost. The power of daylight is in its natural rhythms. If occupants know it is natural light, then they are much more tolerant of wider variations in luminance ratios.
How have sustainable issues informed your thinking? I have designed through a number of energy crises, and watched interest in daylighting and energy conservation wax and wane. The focus should be on energy consumption, so the best quality lighting can be provided when it is needed, and reduced when it is not. The energy codes emphasize connected load, which is simple to measure but doesn't really encourage the best use of energy.
What will it take for sustainable practices to become fully integrated in the design process? Involving lighting designers at the very beginning of a project, architectural education, physical modeling, and testing facilities.