I've enjoyed witnessing the critical discourse published in A|L recently surrounding the topic of energy code restrictions and encourage more of this discursive exchange, especially surrounding topics that inevitably are shaping the future of our profession. I'm grateful that A|L is a willing platform to disseminate to our population such valuable questions.
In my opinion the recent writings, from esteemed colleagues I greatly respect, lose track of the essence that initiated energy guidelines, which is to positively impact the greater good of society. My colleagues, and the resulting articles (“Observations From Practice,” p. 27 and “Design/Energy Code Debate, Sept/Oct 2007, p. 96; and “Design/Energy Code Debate…continued, Jan/Feb 2008, p. 72), instead seem to focus attention on frustrations surrounding minutia in applications within certain project typologies and navigational techniques for such policies while also harkening toward nostalgic reflection of past days where fewer restrictions seem to offer greater creative opportunity.
As the complexities of our daily working process require piecing together individual tasks associated with each project, we must remain cognoscente of the larger implications of how our work touches the world. Our profession has evolved through being task specialists; understanding the material of light and its applications better than others. As this narrow view of the task in front of us has sharpened our propensity of what we do, I offer that it has simultaneously narrowed our field of view regarding the presence of light within the entirety of a project and beyond to societal and world issues.
The reality is that the practice of lighting design has changed. Where light was once understood simply as a medium that renders architecture, light is now considered a significant medium in its own right—an essential aspect of building performance, particularly in terms of energy.
With codes bearing down on us, the lighting profession should consider itself fortunate to be in a position of leadership that has early involvement in a building's overall design, performance, and programming. Isn't this increased level of contribution and in turn professional respect from colleagues in parallel fields exactly what we've been yearning for? Rather than reminisce about past design methods that may well be outdated, why do we not embrace this moment of change? Since when is a “restriction” viewed as an evil? Should we not recognize the larger benefits of energy regulation and simply consider it as one of several “limits” to a project that we address daily (e.g., budget, maintenance, program), which have no negative implication on creative opportunity but rather enhance ingenuity?
Let's take charge of this pivotal moment in our profession's evolution to reinvent the values of light within architecture and society, scrutinize application standards, reinvent our academic programs, and embrace these “restrictions” as a new means of defining aesthetic parameters. Should we not lead the process to ensure the peg is retooled to properly fit within the parameters we define as meaningful? This retooling process requires perseverance, collective contribution, and change.
PRINCIPAL, DEREK PORTER STUDIO, KANSAS CITY, MO
DIRECTOR, MFA LIGHTING DESIGN PROGRAM, PARSONS THE NEW SCHOOL FOR DESIGN, NEW YORK CITY