Joseph Sohm

It is not uncommon for a lighting designer to discover that no matter how many lighting products there are on the market, the luminaire or light source they need to realize their design concept does not exist. As a result, there is a long tradition in lighting of designers partnering with manufacturers to customize a luminaire to meet the specific project scenario or even to develop a completely new luminaire. Two projects that serve as examples are the relighting of the Statue of Liberty by the Brandston Partnership in 1986 and the lighting for the September 11 National Memorial by Fisher Marantz Stone in 2007.

The Statue of Liberty (shown) has proved a lighting challenge ever since it was installed in New York Harbor in 1886. As the 150-foot-tall copper-clad Lady Liberty neared her centennial in 1986, lighting designer Howard Brandston was asked (in 1984) to give her a “lighting makeover.” Brandston studied the sculpture, noting that the statue looked its best in early morning light. His design called for creating a hierarchy of illumination—four zones from the base to the top of the statue that would increase in intensity culminating with the glowing focal point, the torch. To do this Brandston realized that he would need “one lamp to mimic the morning sun and one lamp to mimic the morning sky” but soon discovered that no such lamp existed that could meet these criteria. Partnering with General Electric, Brandston worked with a team of engineers to design a new light source for the project. It took two years, but in the end they delivered a “cool” and a “warm” metal halide lamp that could achieve the desired effect.


A view of the North Tower Reflecting Pool with the National September 11 Museum in the background.
National September 11 Memorial & Museum A view of the North Tower Reflecting Pool with the National September 11 Museum in the background.


The design for the September 11 National Memorial, a competition-winning scheme called “Reflecting Absence,” by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker, called for a landscape of trees surrounding two reflecting pools that would echo the void of the Twin Tower’s footprints. Lighting designer Paul Marantz, of Fisher Marantz Stone (FMS), was asked to illuminate the project and find a way to stay true to the design while meeting the security criteria. The two main fixtures developed for the project—the site pole and the submersible fixture at the waterfalls—break new ground in achieving technical performance previously thought impossible.

The landscape design includes more than 400 white oak trees across the site. Square light columns, each standing just over 16 feet tall, incorporate security cameras and radio antennas along with the lighting element at the top: prismatic refractors with four 4-foot-long T8 lamps.
Ines Leong/archphoto The landscape design includes more than 400 white oak trees across the site. Square light columns, each standing just over 16 feet tall, incorporate security cameras and radio antennas along with the lighting element at the top: prismatic refractors with four 4-foot-long T8 lamps.

For the site fixture, FMS used prismatic refractors around a 4-foot linear fluorescent light source to achieve the necessary vertical illuminance. The technology had only ever been used in a cylindrical form but the plaza design required a square-shaped luminaire. FMS worked with lighting manufacturer Selux, who had been instrumental in developing this technology, to adapt it to the new form factor.

The other technical lighting achievement happens at the two reflecting pools. The challenge was how to create an uplight that would be bright enough while withstanding the constant volume of water coming from the 30-foot waterfall. FMS partnered with Winona Lighting, an Acuity Brand, to design a new luminaire using early LED lamp technology that incorporated water cooling to dissipate the heat produced by the LEDs. The fixture’s wiring is also designed so that the luminaire can be disconnected and replaced from an access space adjacent to the pool and out of public view. In both instances, collaboration was essential for the design and for advancing lighting.

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