Project Bard College, The Gabrielle H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden Center for Science and Computation, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.
Design Team Rafael Viñoly Architects, New York (architect); Lam Partners, Cambridge, Mass. (lighting designer)
Photographer Brad Feinknopf, Columbus, Ohio
Project Size 49,000 square feet
Watts per Square Feet 1.37 (Phase I)
Manufacturers Bega, Corelite, Fail-Safe, Metalux, Neo-Ray, Portfolio

The Bard College Center for Science and Computation in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., features a cost-effective lighting design accomplished with simple hardware—no custom or decorative fixtures—that “celebrates the architecture instead of calling attention to itself,” explains Keith Yancey, principal of Cambridge, Mass.–based Lam Partners. “The basic idea for the lighting was to really hide the lighting hardware and highlight the building's features.” Employing such a lighting scheme in a collegiate building with strict demands for illuminating laboratory spaces posed a challenge to Yancey and his design team, but he says both the client and the team at New York–based Rafael Viñoly Architects basically gave them free rein in regard to the lighting.

The building has four freestanding elliptical “pods” in the double-height lobby. Brad Feinknopf

As part of the first phase of construction, the 49,000-square-foot building housing the biology, computer science, and mathematics departments includes a 60-seat auditorium, research laboratories, and classrooms. A tall spine containing vertical circulation, support spaces, and mechanical equipment runs through the center of the building, which has labs on one side, and faculty offices on the other. The spine results in a sloped ceiling in the laboratory areas, which did make things a bit tricky with the lighting. “The sloping ceiling was actually a very practical need from the architect's standpoint because of duct work on the core side,” Yancey explains. “They wanted to celebrate that volume as much as possible.” A full-height glass curtain wall system stretches the length of the building where the labs are located, and while the glass is floor-to-ceiling at the outer edge, Yancey notes that they could not maintain that ceiling volume throughout the entire space.

A full-length glass curtain wall is featured in the laboratory spaces. Brad Feinknopf

The lighting design concept for the laboratories started with the idea that the pendants could be angled to follow the ceiling slope, but the designers' end decision was to hang the pendants plumb. Reflectors are attached to the uplight component on the ends of the pendants closest to the slope so the ceilings are not overly illuminated with light from the fluorescent T8 lamps while still providing appropriate light levels for the workspaces, explains project manager Carlene Geraci, also from Lam Partners. The labs overlook a wooded area to the west, and the trees provide some shading from the natural light. There is an automated shading system in place, and the lighting controls in the laboratories allow lamps to be turned off when there is ample daylight.

The open double-height lobby features faculty offices on the second floor that overlook four freestanding “pods” clad in copper, stainless steel, and zinc. These spaces include an auditorium, two lecture halls, and a seminar room. The auditorium features 250W incandescent downlights over the audience area, PAR38 45W lensed wallwashers throughout, and 35W halogen steplights in the aisles. The classrooms, seminar rooms, and lecture halls are illuminated by dimmable two-lamp linear T8 fluorescent downlights.

At the main entrance, 39W metal halide lamps along the soffit illuminate the exterior, and incandescent lamps under the benches make them appear to be floating. Brad Feinknopf

At the main entrance, a necklace of 39W metal halide downlights are employed along the soffit of the building to “float” the offices on the upper level, Yancey explains. No pole lights are used for outdoor illumination because the lighting designers did not want to distract from the building's architectural forms. A circular bench area outside the main entrance is illuminated from below with incandescent lamps. While the project uses fairly simple hardware, the team from Lam Partners still was able to create an appropriate and cost-effective lighting solution for this state-of-the-art collegiate building that enhances the architecture and meets all of the client's demands.