Posted in education on July 31, 2017 10:22 am EDT

Lighting from a Google Earth-Like Perspective

AEC peers disclose the big-picture lighting issues they encounter in modern church design.

Images courtesy of Phillips Color Kinetics.











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TAGS: architecture, design, lighting,


By Ed Van Herik

Many churches, intent on creating services with maximum impact, are cranking up the lighting to showcase a trend toward more theatrical services, say architects, who are building more “black box” central worship areas without windows to allow for greater control. Many new churches find they need two lighting designers, one for the worship area, the other for the rest of the campus.

“The style of worship has changed in many cases, moving more into a theatrical range,” says David Lipp, founding principal of Helbing, Lipp, Recny Architects in the Washington D.C. area. “The techies don’t like windows because of the glare on video screens.”

Daylighting … has its fans, in part because of the emotional uplift many people experience in a space flooded with natural light.

Architect Rusty Hyde, senior engineer at Hyde Engineering in Birmingham, Ala., estimates that the growing power needs of windowless theatrical worship spaces can consume up to 50% of a facility’s usage. But the end product, says Hyde, can be astounding. “Essentially, it’s a rock concert every morning” in a megachurch.

Space-specific Design Considerations

Norman Russell, a theater lighting expert, sees effective lighting design as a key element in creating a vivid worship service. For him, controlled lighting helps heighten the impact of the emotional elements presented to the audience. Russell suggests building catwalks above a false ceiling to allow technicians greater safety and flexibility in adjusting the lighting as a service or pageant unfolds. It also preserves some of the mystery, says Russell, a principal consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif., with the Sextant Group. “We want to conceal the magic.”

Elsewhere on the church campus, the overall lighting goal for any house of worship remains the same. “From a member perspective, the biggest thing is to use efficient lighting to create a warm, inviting atmosphere, but not one that’s over the top,” says Ryan Cazan, an account manager for Lighting Supply Co. in Clarkston, Mich.

For Hyde, several factors always need to be considered:

• Worship space design to provide for AV and other production necessities within a seamless system

• High product quality to ensure that fixtures function for years with minimal maintenance needs

• Efficiency, so that all areas are lighted adequately without waste

• System performance

Dr. Brent Protzman, manager of energy information and analytics at Lutron Electronics Co. in Coopersburg, Pa., notes that systems must be designed to meet the lighting needs of all possible space uses. “A good layered lighting design will likely use multiple systems, including downlights, indirect lighting, cove lighting, accent lighting, etc.” Even within a single system design, the light distribution changes based on function and desired visual effect, Protzman adds, noting that users will need present scene controls to make adjustments quickly and easily.  continued >>