Science City, located in the renovated Union Station complex in Kansas City, MO, is a two-level museum-cum-entertainment extravaganza that covers over 65,000 sq. ft. (5,850 sq. m), intermixing museum form with theatrical flair. From a prehistoric dig to an old-style boarding house, Science City at Union Station takes patrons on a journey that goes into the human body, a bat cave, and through time itself into the past of Kansas City. The project, which began in June 1997 and was completed last November, takes patrons through a total of 30 different environments.
To achieve this architectural yet theatrical look, Entolo of New York, the initial conceptual consultants of Science City, contacted lighting designer Ted Mather, whom it knew from previous projects. "They were looking for a lighting consultant that could light theplace in a fun, theatrical way, but still be able to handle all the architectural requirements," explains Mather.
Since Mather has primarily a theatre background, he contacted former New York University classmate Anita Jorgensen, who was doing a stint at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. "By bringing Anita into the project, the two of us could handle all the different requirements, since there are quite a lot of different spaces there," Mather explains.
They began Science City by layering the lighting in each of the varied spaces. The first layer was the traditional architectural fixtures that would be used in the environment depicted; second was track lighting to augment the brightness of the room and highlight graphic elements. Finally, if appropriate to the space, theatrical colors and gobos were added.
"Our mandate from the client was to keep the various sources and types of instruments as simple and as few as possible," notes Jorgensen. In the end, there were over 150 separate fixtures used in the project, with ETC Source Fours and LSI track lighting featured very visibly within the various spaces. "We could have done it a different way, but it was decided early on that the level of reality was to be fairly high," explains Jorgensen. "Consequently, you can't use the same equipment in an operating room as you do in grandma's attic," adds Mather.
To reach this level of reality in a variety of present and historical scenarios, the LDs were helped by a variety of sources. "We were fortunate in that along with our own research, Douglas/Gallagher, the exhibit designers, exchanged archival information with us by fax," comments Jorgensen. "They helped us determine what would be most appropriate for that environment, specifically an environment in Kansas City." The museum itself had an archive, which helped Mather and Jorgensen find photos and renderings of instruments that would be found in a dry goods store, an architect's office, and a barber shop, among others.
Mather and Jorgensen also kept the color temperature of Science City in the 3000K range. "We wanted it to be associated with the incandescent range rather than the daylight range. Generally, people feel more comfortable in a 3000K color temperature," Jorgensen says. Consequently, both the MR-16 GE Constant Color lamps and the Ushio 115X Source Four lamps are 3000K. "Before we'll put a lamp on the job, we test it out 24 hours a day for a month and do side-to-side comparisons to make sure we can stand by the product," she says. "We didn't use any metal-halide on the job, because we didn't have the opportunity to test the lamps out and be sure that there would be no color shift."
Another omnipresent issue in all architectural lighting is economics. "We tried to keep the power consumption and wattage down," explains Mather, who decided to use 375W lamps in the Source Fours. "Using a 575W lamp would have consumed way too much power and increased the cooling needs of the building and have quite a number of ramifications."
Overall, Science City consists of several areas over two distinct levels, the most prominent areas being Uptown, Southside, Downtown, and Old Town, all of which are somewhat intertwined in the museum. Southside features a cathedral-type glass ceiling that towers up to 70' (21m), Old Town has special architectural challenges, and Uptown has the largest, most dominant area.
Southside is one of the first areas that patrons can visit, encompassing 10,000 sq. ft. (900 sq. m) on two levels. The ceiling height is 70' at the peak of the skylight and 60' (18m) to the bottom of five 100' (30m) catwalks. Southside features a variety of exhibits, with about six of them completely enclosed.
Patrons in Southside can take a spiral staircase walk up a 40' (12m) tree to an enormous, Swiss Family Robinson-style treehouse. For Jorgensen and Mather, the lighting requirements of this area were fairly apparent. "If you're out in a treehouse at night, what would you have?" Mather asks. "Moonlight. So we have some pale blue light filtering through the trees. And you'd probably have a Coleman lantern with you." Thus the treehouse features four actual Coleman lanterns, as well as three PAR-38s tucked into the corners for utility lighting. "On the theatrical level, we cover the tree in several different colors and gobos which bring out the richness of the tree."
But the treehouse isn't the only treat in Southside. Light Alley, located on the lower level of Southside, is a 16'-high, 12'-wide, 70'-long (5x4x21m) hallway that takes visitors on a visual escapade. "Basically, Light Alley is all about the tricks that light can do," explains Mather. The area explores color-mixing, lasers, strobes, motion sensors, and light curtains. "It's very colorful--all gobos, heavy color, and very dark and shadowy," he says. The area, which is illuminated at about 2fc, also has a special feature that is a bit unexpected. "It's a fun area, but they put the bathrooms in the hallway," says a chagrined Mather. "We ended up putting more light where the bathroom entrances are, and at least people are having fun when they need to use the facilities," he chuckles.
Moving through Science City, visitors will come upon the Uptown area, which features a crime lab, astronaut training, and a mysterious hotel. Uptown also features a scientific journey into the world of weather at the severe storm center, which measures approximately 15'x30' (4.6x9m) and includes a large skylight. While patrons learn about weather patterns, they are alerted by the video displays that a storm is approaching.
"As it progresses and gets worse, it's like the storm is happening around you," explains Mather. To create the moody, dark flashes of an actual thunderstorm, Mather and Jorgensen used four High End Dataflash(R) AF-1000 units, eight Altman 10" scoops, four double-tube dimmable fluorescent units, and three 50-degree Source Four ellipsoidals, each of which uses an EFX Plus2 effects projector from City Theatrical. All the instruments are projected onto the skylight, to display the progress of the storm, while the office is much more standardized. "In the office itself, it's all very white, with standard Edison Price downlights," explains Jorgensen. "It's fairly 'go-away' lighting," she adds with a smile.
Traveling from Uptown to the Downtown area, patrons can visit a sports training center, a test kitchen, and an operating room. For the budding diagnostician, no trip into Downtown is complete without a trip into the human body, where patrons can diagnose disease from the inside. The body tour, which covers 3,000 sq. ft. (270 sq. m), is one area that makes ample use of Mather's theatrical skills. "We used nine Rosco Gobo Rotators on the human body walk-through; they made it look like the blood was undulating," he says mischievously. "We also used an EFX Plus2 projector, to make it look like there were cells moving through the bloodstream."
For patrons who are less inclined to see undulating blood gobos, there is the Old Town area, where the past of Kansas City comes alive. Old Town takes visitors into the past from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, giving them a peek into the simpler life. Physically, Old Town is located under the old train station, and consequently the 16'-high ceiling is home to a variety of plumbing fixtures. "We wanted to make it bright enough to feel outdoorsy, but not so bright that it illuminated all of the plumbing which was exposed," says Mather. "We couldn't just uplight the ceiling and make it look like the sky, it had to be fairly directional."
To compensate for the ceiling, Mather and Jorgensen used 52 Source Four jrs and 67 Source Four PARs to wash the facades of the various buildings in Old Town. "By directing the light downward rather than upward, we got the focus off the ceiling," Mather says. To finish the outside of the Old Town area, the LDs used Rosco 364 (Blue Bell), R68 (Sky Blue), GAM 305 (French Rose), and G385 (Light Amber) to create a dappled, dusky feeling.
Another major challenge in the Old Town area was to find fixtures that would look realistic in a vintage setting. "At first, I was all over the map looking for fixtures," Jorgensen admits. "But then we realized that we had to address the client's mandate of trying to simplify the project." Consequently, she went to the Rejuvenation Lamp Company in Portland, OR, a firm that carries replica fixtures from the mid-19th century to the 1950s. "Rather than having something custom-made that this budget could not handle, we used ready-made fixtures that we could order that would fit into the period," she concludes. "We certainly didn't want the local historical society to come through and say, 'This is all wrong,'" she chuckles.
The workhorse of Old Town, as well as the rest of Science City, was the track lights provided by LSI. "There was a lot of flexibility in the track lighting," Jorgensen says. "Each section of track contains two circuits, and each circuit is dimmable. That way, we could have a PAR that's got a 375W lamp in it on the same track as an MR-16," Mather adds. "The units can be on separate circuits and we can control them separately." The LSI track lights also feature an adapter that allows theatrical fixtures to be mounted on the track, and the pigtails can be wired to the LSI track plug.
Although Science City opened its doors last November, it's still a work in progress. "We're still doing a lot of the finishing touches," Mather says. For the two LDs, the project, which began as a collaboration between former classmates, had an entirely different conclusion. "We began this project as former classmates, and we're leaving it as a corporation, Mather Jorgensen Lighting Design Inc., in New York and New Jersey. We never imagined in a million years that this would be the outcome," Jorgensen says.
Sharon Stancavage is a Detroit-based concert and theatrical lighting technician.
LIGHTING DESIGNERS Ted Mather, Anita Jorgensen
LIGHTING EQUIPMENT (50) Altman Micro Ellipses (20) Altman 5" 1000L-SM fresnels (12) B-K Lighting Casino Star MR-16 uplights (20) Bega 8316 spotlight fixtures (11) City Theatrical EFX Plus2 projectors (379) ETC Source Fours and Source Four jrs with custom silver finish and 375W long-life lamps (328) ETC Source Four PARs with custom silver finish and 375W long-life lamps (4) High End Systems Dataflash AF-1000 strobes (84) Legion fluorescent strips and troffers (457) LSI Lightnote series MR-16 track fixtures (46) LSI Spacebird MR-16 track fixtures (8) Mole-Richardson Super Soft-Lites (32) Louis Poulsen street lights (10) Precision Projection Wavelights (68) Reggiani recessed MR-16 downlights (29) Rejuvenation Lamp Company period fixtures (9) Rosco variable-speed Double Gobo Rotators (14) Spring City period street lights (6) Strand 100W Arturo Softlights (4) Strand 300W cyc lights (30) Strand 540W 5" fresnels (67) Zumtobel Staff Lighting ZX fluorescent/incandescent series (2) Zumtobel Staff Lighting Filigrano track and fixtures (2) Strand 520i lighting consoles with Shownet distribution system (960) Strand CD-80 dimmers 500' Insight Paseo Single Span series uplights w/Eco-ten Ballast 4,500' LSI pendant-mounted two-circuit track, Series 32020 with silver finish 430' cold cathode in blue, aqua, amber, and red