MIGUEL CASTELLANOS, ECOM Engineering
There is such a small supply of accredited programs that offer degrees in architectural lighting design that our industry would not even come close to filling the demand. I believe though that professional work experience followed by a formal lighting exam would aid our profession dramatically. The LC title is a good starting point for understanding core competencies, a 'Professional Lighting Designer/Engineer' would ensure a proper specification and design in accordance with issues such as energy compliance, trespass, color, mounting height/configuration, respected light levels, etc. All too often we are the victim of a new layout or our designs are 'value engineered' without an RFI or change order. Having a 'Professional Lighting Designer/Engineer' sign off would make certain that the best intentions of the client, contractor, local municipality, and most important, our discipline are met.
CHARLES STONE, IALD President, Principal, Fisher Marantz Stone
This question goes to the heart of our nascent profession. My response touches on some of the many facets of the issue and incorporates contributions from recent conversations with colleagues around the world.
The answer begins with education - and lighting education is ascending all over the world. The university programs begun by John Flynn at Penn State, Warren Julian at the University of Sydney, David Koch at the Bartlett School in the UK, and David DiLaura at the University of Colorado have been followed by ever-improving programs at Parsons and RPI in New York, AE degrees in Kansas and Nebraska, Jan Ejhed's program in Stockholm, Wismar and Hildesheim in Germany, Kaoru Mende's lectures in Tokyo, Esther Stiller in S?o Paulo...and the list goes on. Through the support of our IALD Education Trust and the terrific workshops run by ELDA in Sweden, Switzerland, and elsewhere, the education of lighting designers gets better every year.
Many, if not most, people practicing independent architectural lighting design today do have an accredited degree in a related field and are certainly engaged in professional work. Our backgrounds range from a variety of creative disciplines. Because lighting encompasses so many different disciplines, it seems a huge hurdle to educational standardization. I think we all agree that a wide-ranging curriculum is best.
Of course the real education of a lighting designer happens through apprenticeship or internship. About 30 years ago the late great Leslie Wheel launched the IALD Internship program and the IALD is in the process of reconstituting our intern program to make it more robust and truly international. Meanwhile, several offices around the world have been running ad hoc intern programs of their own. And yes, I would agree that we should have a practical work requirement as part of any certification or qualification initiative.
One of the first certification initiatives in the USA was the National Council of Qualifications for the Lighting Profession (NCQLP). When we started NCQLP, there were several lighting certification programs from 'Residential Lighting' to 'Energy Engineer,' but the IALD felt a need to develop one certification that was more directed towards lighting designers. We still envision a next level to the LC standard, more focused on Design (capital 'D'). I suppose the main reason this has not happened is the cost to create and administer such an upgraded certification. For US-based practitioners, I believe there is value in obtaining an LC, since it is one avenue of setting even a minimal standard.
At present, there is no licensing or accreditation procedure for lighting design in Europe, Australia, China, India, or North America - and these are the areas where our profession is most active. In the US alone, each state has the right to set its own requirements and licensing procedures, and to get every state to agree on one set of criteria would take years of legislative lobbying and a great deal of money. Do we really want to do this to ourselves?
I personally feel that establishing a formal lighting design credential or license at this time (necessarily administrated by an outside body) would not be in our best interest. The added costs, both to the IALD and to our individual businesses, and the increased liability we would assume will not be offset by the marginal increased credibility we may gain. I believe we gain much greater credibility in the marketplace through aggressive public relations and marketing campaigns, particularly our awards and education programs and our participation in Lightfair and other international industry events.
MARC C. PFEIFFER, National Sales Manager, W.A.C. Lighting
Yes, individuals should absolutely be required to attend an accredited degree program followed by professional work experience and a licensing exam. Accreditation and certification ensure that proper methods were utilized to design a lighting scheme, and that accountability is assigned. Yes, also, to a licensing procedure. That is the purpose of the NCQLP, National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions.
BRUCE HOSTETTER, Lighting Designer, ReaLight Design
Early in my lighting design education (all extension classes), a professor claimed that the real beauty of our profession was that people came to it from many disciplines. If there was a way to establish 'an education and licensing procedure' that could somehow attract a group of participants with a diverse background, I'd be all for it. My hunch is that the more we program education and establish strict licensing requirements, the more this profession will become 'b-o-o-oring!'
The architecture model for determining competency is wrong for lighting. What we need to be more than anything else is passionately inspired by light and have a place for all the 'moths' to access lighting education. I remember the consensus at a lighting educators conference in 1996 when everyone agreed that graduates need a more diverse educational background to practice lighting design well and more diverse opportunities to get that lighting education. All licensing does is lower the bar to a level where most people can clear it. We need our limited educational resources to go into programs that emphasize creativity and to remember that there are a million ways to solve a lighting problem, not just one solution that is 'taught to the test.'
SUSANNAH ZWEIGHAFT, Director, AKF Lighting Design Studio
I believe that being formally educated and accredited helps not only the lighting designer, but also the public in understanding what lighting design involves. The rest of the world views doctors, lawyers, engineers, and architects with the respect they have earned and deserve. Without education and accreditation, others find it hard to see lighting as deserving of respect, and more importantly, a required consultant for every project. I have a BFA in theatre lighting and have taken both the CLEP (AEE) and the LC (NCQLP) exams successfully. My hope was to lend some perceived professionalism and seriousness to my practice. However, I constantly hear grumblings from groups who don't agree with the present testing process or want to create yet a new standard. To require a formal license, as an architect and engineer require, would certainly separate out the designers who mean business. And even better, it would stop architects, engineers, and even lighting representatives from doing the work that belongs to us.
PERRY KRAVEC, Sr. Electrical Designer, Michael Baker Jr., Inc.
I am one of over 1,200 certified lighting designers who has taken and passed the LC exam, which addresses this question very well. The qualifications are similar to the PE in that you must have a four-year engineering degree, four years of experience, and referrals from two supervisors. After passing the exam, you are required to earn 36 LEU credits within three years to be recertified, or you must retake the exam. The exam tests the broad spectrum of lighting design, but also includes industrial, code-related, and roadway questions. The NCQLP has done a good job of creating a comprehensive exam with good support before and after.
DAVID BUERER, Product Manager, Leviton Manufacturing
Requiring licensure of lighting design professionals is analogous to requiring licensure of painters? Lighting design is art. 'Scultor? con luce'-sculpting with light-is the job of a lighting designer. Requiring licensure of an artist is a sin; forcing a lighting designer into a program like an engineer is in the same category. However, the benefactor of any art must also do their homework. There's nothing worse then commissioning a frescoed ceiling by an artist who is only an expert at the pottery wheel. As such, a common group of definitions, or rather, classifications of the types of lighting design would be helpful to all in the industry. In concert with agreed-upon definitions, steps toward certification as an 'expert' in the field based on work experience, tests or exams also would be helpful.