one of the overarching themes contained in the pages of A|L is the relationship between architecture and light. Disciplines unto themselves, projects are richer when the two speak in unison. Lighting and historic preservation, as the projects in this issue demonstrate, are no exception.
Light finds expression in two primary forms: as an object-the luminaire; and as a quality or the creation of atmosphere. It is in the latter where lighting offers a fresh perspective in a preservation context. Lighting's ability to transform a neglected structure, building, or landscape with a new identity should not be underestimated. Such is the case with the Kingston Bridge on the River Clyde in Glasgow (see page 42), the Stone Arch Bridge, which spans the Mississippi at its intersection with the city of Minneapolis (see page 30), and the beach at Great Yarmouth on England's North Sea Coast (see page 41). Although each project has a distinctly different lighting scheme, all are infused, through the application of illumination, with a new sense of vibrancy and a greater connection to the immediate site and the cities beyond.
With the Pyramid at the Louvre in Paris (see page 38), lighting does not need to introduce this twenty-first-century architectural icon to the public; rather, the refurbished lighting scheme serves to reinforce the strength of the original design, the structure's monumental presence, and the sense of place it creates around it. In contrast, at the New York Historical Society (see page 34), lighting helps to reinvigorate an underappreciated building and reintroduce historical collections of significance to the viewing public.
One project that embodies all of the themes integral to preservation-architecture and light, old and new, object and atmosphere-is Higgins Hall, home to the school of architecture at Pratt Institute (see page 29). With its modern architectural vocabulary of concrete, light, and glass, the building distinguishes itself from its landmarked brick-clad neighbors without turning its back on them. It is the very contrast of this new structure with its surroundings that allows its richness and that of the adjacent structures to happily cohabitate. Like so many of the other projects discussed in this issue, the building completely transforms at night, as its illuminated interiors provide security, comfort, and an identifiable location for students.
Through their lighting schemes, each project in this issue creates an illuminated presence and a sense of place. The extension of a building's or a landscape's identity to include a nighttime presence is perhaps too abstract an idea of preservation for some, but it seems to be taking hold as an acceptable practice. And this awareness is not just confined to designers; manufacturers are also recognizing lighting that celebrates a city's cultural and architectural heritage by establishing a nocturnal identity. Now in its third year, the City-People-Light Award program, established by Philips, has recognized urban master-plan lighting schemes worldwide (see 'Lighting as Urban Design Catalyst,' March 2005 and 'Cities, Light and Beautiful,' Jan/Feb 2006).
Historic preservation as a term describes a broad range of work with nuanced practices like restoration, rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse. Lighting is one element that fits into any of these scenarios, but we should be mindful that for all the benefits an illuminated landscape can provide, we also need to preserve another type of illuminated landscape-the night sky. Lighting plays an important role in linking our present with our past, no matter whether design includes the addition or subtraction of light.
A|L Light & Architecture Design Awards
deadline: Tuesday, May 2, 2006
entry forms available at www.archlighting.com
April/May Exchange Question
What current developments and trends do you see as having a significant impact on the lighting industry?
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