Posted in education on September 14, 2015 1:19 pm EDT

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Your architectural lighting design can enhance or detract from faith-based spaces. Which will it be?

LED OPTION: Valley Creek Church in Flower Mound, Texas, uses Chroma-Q Inspire LED house fixtures to obtain white light in a range of color temperatures, as well as to achieve deep saturated colors that envelop the congregation in the moment. Image courtesy of A.C. Lighting.











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TAGS: architecture, business, design, lighting, sustainability,


By Jim Kumorek

While a significant amount of time is spent on the design of a worship facility’s interior spaces, there’s an important technical aspect that greatly impacts the end result of that architectural design: lighting.

"Wall grazers work better for walls where you desire to accentuate [the] uneven or rough characteristics of a wall. A stone wall, for example, takes on a dramatic look when lit with grazer fixtures."

—Bridget Williams Owner, Williams Design & Consultants LLC, Southern California.

“Human beings primarily communicate visually,” says Bridget Williams, owner of Williams Design & Consultants LLC based in southern California. “What you see affects how you feel about a space. Our job as a lighting designer is more than just making the architecture look good. It is about the people and helping to communicate the look or feeling for each event or service. Lighting will help direct attention and focus when needed and create that spiritual space.”

A good lighting design will accent the features and areas to which people’s attention should be drawn; a poor design will show off imperfections or create a distraction from what the space is all about. And what constitutes a good architectural lighting design will depend on the style of both the space as well as the services and events that take place there.

Wall Washes

“For our contemporary church, we use color-changing LED pendant lighting for our house lighting,” reports Chris Kozen, worship production coordinator for Valley Creek Church in Flower Mound, Texas. “This provides both illumination for the congregation but also forms our wall-wash through those fixtures being placed closer to the edges of the room.”

Kozen considered using linear LED lights as wall grazers (fixtures placed within two feet of the wall) to add color to the walls of the sanctuary, but found that fixtures placed that close to the wall would show off imperfections in the drywall finish. A wall wash from the house lighting fixtures gave them the ability to alter the mood of the room by changing the color on the walls without highlighting any wall unevenness. “Washing the walls with color such as is done at Valley Creek with the Chroma-Q Inspire fixtures enables you to extend the theatricality you have on stage throughout the rest of the facility,” states David Stephens, consultant with Idibri in the Dallas area. “It lets you change the feel of the room by changing the color of the walls.”. Stephens continues, “For the fourth of July, the First Baptist Church of Dallas had a flag waving on the video screen, and they also mapped the video of the flag onto the LED wall fixtures to extend the feeling of the waving flag around the entire room.” The type of fixtures specified in a space is largely determined by the wall material and what might be placed on those walls.

“Wall grazers work better for walls where you desire to accentuate [the] uneven or rough characteristics of a wall,” Williams notes. “A stone wall, for example, takes on a dramatic look when lit with grazer fixtures.”

“We find that wall washes work fine for flat walls but in the case of angled walls or angled acoustic panels, it becomes more challenging,” Williams adds. In addition to the shape of the wall, another consideration is the color the wall is painted. “A colored wall washed with certain colors of light can combine to look pretty terrible,” Stephens says. “If color washes are planned, neutral colored walls work best.”

First Baptist Church of Orlando, Fla., also transitioned to LED color-changing Inspire house lighting fixtures, as well as linear LED lighting as wall grazers. And through its new lighting system, reports achieving some interesting effects.

Color Temperature, CRI and Consistency

Part of what helps set a mood in a space is the color temperature of the white light being used. “If you use warmer color temperature lighting (closer to incandescent lighting) when people are entering a space, there's more of a sense of community and comfort,” states Stephens, “whereas cooler color temperatures that are closer to daylight tend to be energizing.”

When you are using linear LED lighting for wall grazers, it’s important to recognize that the exact colors of the LEDs can vary from fixture to fixture. In a process called binning, manufacturers test the LEDs to ensure that their color falls into an acceptable range. Generally speaking, the higher the cost of the fixture, the less tolerant the binning process is for selecting the LEDs, and the better the fixtures will match each other.  continued >>