"Lighting used to be ‘after the fact,’ whereas now it is an integral component of the overall design process," says veteran Canadian LD Sholem Dolgoy. Among his latest designs is the Dynamic Earth: Inco Limited Gallery of Earth Sciences at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto. Working with the ROM’s project manager, Irena Govan, and exhibit designer Fang-Pin Lee, he designed the lighting in tandem with the design of the exhibit.
"I use light to draw attention in a manner similar to the director of photography in film. I emphasize that ‘this is the most important thing to look at in this area’ with light. I used a mix of fairly conventional track fixtures with incandescent PARs, low-voltage MR-16s, fiber optics, theatrical framing projectors, and ETC Source Fours."
The 14,000-sq.-ft. (1,260 sq. m) permanent gallery, which cost $2.8 million ($4.25 million CND) to build, is divided into educational and Treasures segments. Source Fours frame the name of the exhibit and its sponsor, and a gobo creates a texture of light on a symbol of the earth.
At the entranceway of Alien Planet, Dolgoy placed an MR-16 framing projector from Targetti to retain the required darkness in the room, with the light framed to the text and a volcano in the background. The stylized volcano projection exhibit which "erupts" on a cycle was designed for children. There are 100 fixtures on a series of chases inside the volcano, creating a pulsing effect. Each of the lights (from Kupo, among other suppliers) is connected to one of 12 dimmers in a pattern, and the dimmers are controlled by a Dataton integrated audio, projection, and lighting system supplied by Invisible Media.
Dolgoy found the lighting of the Treasures cases "an interesting challenge." They are located in a daylit atrium and needed to be lit for all times of day and all seasons. "I expanded on the exclusively fiber-optic approach my associate LD, Paul Mathiesen, had used in the ROM’s S.R. Perren Gem and Gold Room, a combination of fiber-optic and halogen track lighting. There is an overhead treatment with Times Square track lighting using an Osram Halostar 4º 50W 12V AR111 bulb with a perforated metal canopy that shields against daylight. Fiber optics come up through the floor of each case and provide low-angle sidelight for feature pieces. Absolute Action, the supplier, provided ultimate sophistication with a system of gold-plated brass fittings (that do not tarnish long-term) which hold the fiber and allow you to point the light wherever you want it. This method also provided a great range of lensing from a very wide to a very narrow beam." Fiber optics came from RSLI and Super Vision; other equipment obtained (from Altman, Rosco, and Optikinetics) came from suppliers including Christie Lites, Westsun, Magic Light, and Eurolight.
Was it worth the effort and money? "Lamp life was a huge issue," says Dolgoy. "Theatrical lighting lasts far less than architectural and requires high maintenance. Architectural lighting, however, has not discovered the joy of sidelight and other interesting angles; it tends not to use form-revealing light because, in most cases, lighting is an afterthought. Yes, it was worth it. The treasures of the ROM are displayed to their best advantage; great during the day, dazzling at night."
Designers remain constrained and challenged by the size of their clients’ budgets. Paul Mathiesen’s budget for lighting the Meow nightclub, in the east end of Toronto, was minimal compared to that of his room at the ROM.
Stairs to the club’s top floor are washed in a glow of lighted niches, bouncing warm-hued fluorescents onto color-grid walls. MR-16s hit the walls at the top like bar codes. Uplight fluorescents with orange gels paint the ceiling orange, all indirect, all invisible.
Through a scrim off the upper balcony, a dance floor extends over the VIP lounge for ‘viewing.’ The first bar is a curve of stainless steel and frames a lighted orange acrylic face. A second bar illuminates patrons in an orange glow. Downstairs there is a long side bar and a lounge-style seating area surrounded by colored mirrors. A center bar serves the disco ballroom and the dance floor.
Above their slotted wall, dancers view projections of motion and patterns. The VIP area has a raised bar with indirect PAR-38s behind white Plexiglas and 100W A-lamps, all on dimmers. White Plexiglas cubes with PAR-38s inside serve as drink stands. The whole creates a sophisticated place to see and be seen.
Church and State
LD Gerry Cornwell, a founding member of the Centre for Lighting Research and Design at Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto and coordinator for the Certificate in Lighting Design program (the only university-level lighting design certificate available in Canada) was recently challenged by two very different projects. When it was built in the 1960s, St. Giles Presbyterian Church in St. Catharines, Ontario, could not afford to incorporate a stained-glass window behind its altar. By the time a wealthy local businessman had offered to underwrite the window in the late 1990s, a community center built behind the church blocked out all natural light. The long-awaited window had to be lit artificially.
Cornwell’s solution for the 20'-wide, 21'-high window was to install a TIR Systems Ltd. TLP6 light pipe system, designed at the University of British Columbia and exclusive to the market. It consists of 6"-diameter acrylic Light Pipes, model 6400 luminaires with 400W metal-halide lamps, and constant wattage autotransformer ballasts with dimmers. "It’s like a fiber optic blown up," says Cornwell, "a 6"-diameter fluorescent tube. Lamp access is from the bottom of the window. The artificial light can be dimmed or not, as required. It allowed me to light the face of Christ separately using another fiber-optic bundle. Conventional lighting for the same effect would have caused a maintenance nightmare. This way the project came in on time, on budget, and won the Edwin F. Guth Award from the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America."
Similar ingenuity was used by Cornwell to light the Province of Newfoundland’s traveling exhibition celebrating the coming of the Vikings to North America. The show opened in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and its displays were designed by Camus Productions. Cornwell’s job was to light the artifacts, many of them small, in cases. "Had I used conventional lighting, I would have needed 200 low-voltage lamps. I again turned to Foci fiber-optic spots. As a result, each 12' section of three or four display cases could be lit by one lamp. New light bulbs were not a problem, as there were 16 rather than 200. The lighting was also artifact-friendly, giving off no heat and emitting no UV. I could focus each lens, be it single or in a bundle, to be narrow or wide. The number of lenses was driven by the amount of light needed. The light comes back into a Fiberstars FS2L illuminator which controls the amount of light or color. If the lengths of fiber optics are the same, the light is constant; the number of lengths controls the amount of light. I met a complex wattage and beam spread challenge with 16 light bulbs."
The Viking Exhibition was Cornwell’s first project lit entirely with fiber optics, but he is no stranger to its use. He is presently working on a starlit sky on a fiberglass dome over a rounded stairwell in a client’s home. He has incorporated 2,000 fibers of different sizes into the dark blue dome to create "twinkly skies" to enthrall the client’s grandchildren.
Dan Menchions and Keith Rushbrook, the principals of II by IV Design Associates in Toronto, have always considered lighting as a major component of their designs. "The light environment can often encourage a creative atmosphere," says Menchions. "Firms depend on lighting factors to attract creative employees. It is the most important part of design and highlights its key components. Lighting can eliminate eye strain, create mood, atmosphere, and contrasts--hot, cold, dark, light."
Menchions sees a growing trend toward residential qualities in industrial applications. Gone are high, glaring levels. Fewer fluorescent fixtures reduce eye fatigue and highlight computer screens. Indirect lighting in commercial spaces takes a variety of forms--floor and table lamps, sconces.
Among recent projects, II by IV has recessed adjustable MR-16s into the drywall bulkhead at Atom and Eve (above) to illuminate the sandblasted signage. Their design for this children’s footwear retailer received the first place award at the 2000 International Store Interior Design Competition.
At Toronto’s CN Tower (above), decorative 35W MR-16 pendants are suspended from the drywall ceiling, washing each wall panel, to create a warm and comfortable seating area. In the Air Canada Centre, a sports and concert venue, the Platinum Club (below) has adjustable MR-16s recessed at the perimeter of its drywall ceiling to accent the sheer draperies and create an intimate atmosphere. Incandescent floor lamps assist in creating a residential feel.
"In lighting, we try to create a little magic," says Menchions, "to recapture sun shining on water as light glow or a thunderstorm as amber or grey. Each sector has specific and separate lighting needs. All are best served when geared to the market or atmosphere they are trying to attract or create."
Julie Rekai Rickerd is a Canada-based freelancer specializing in travel and the arts.