Claude Engle, a celebrated lighting designer of more than 40 years, and David Nelson, director of design at London-based architecture firm Foster + Partners, presented their collaborative work in a lecture titled "Drawing Light from Shadow" as part of the Feltman Lecture series on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008, at Cooper Union's Great Hall in New York City. David Turnball, chairman of the Feltman series and a professor of architecture at Cooper Union, moderated. The Feltman Series is a lecture made possible by the Ellen and Sidney Feltman Fund established at The Cooper Union to advance the principles and benefits of lighting design through the exploration of the practical, philosophical, and aesthetic attributes of light and illumination.
Foster + Partners (www.fosterandpartners.com) and Claude R. Engle Lighting Consultant (www.crengle.com) have collaborated on many projects over the past 20-plus years. Engle and Nelson touched on a few of these projects, including the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in Hong Kong for which a "sunscoop" was developed to bring natural light into the interior atrium; the Joslyn Art Museum Addition in Omaha, Nebraska, where a clerestory allowed skylight, but not direct sunlight, into the space; and the Reichstag in Berlin, in which a large mirrored cone reflects the horizon light into the interior of the building.
According to Engle, natural light is the most important type of light to have in a space. Of working with Foster and Nelson, Engle said, "It was not his design, or my design, it was a collective design."The lecture concluded with images of the Kamakura House in Kamakura, Japan, a peaceful, tranquil place in which light and space is revealed out of the shadows. It was "designed to be a series of moments, of spatial qualities" Nelson explained. "It's all about the views," and lighting was a key ingredient in creating this composition. After a brief question and answer period, the audience of approximately 250 people trickled out with their only regret being that they could not see more of Engle's beautiful images.