Posted in projects
on January 15, 2015 9:54 am EST
Prospect Heights Church Gets a Brighter Future
Historic Brooklyn, N.Y., co-cathedral undergoes modern lighting transformation, gaining 400 LED lights and an enhanced visual experience for worship and broadcast.
St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, N.Y., commencement service. Image courtesy of LightTech Group.
The LightTech Group of Jamaica, N.Y., is known throughout the industry for its work in television studios, but its lighting designers recently stepped out of their comfort zone to undertake their first church project, magnificently transforming the lighting of the majestic Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, situated in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighborhood.
With its towering 77-foot-high barrel ceiling, 20 dome-shaped vaults lining its aisles, and decorative tile work, the more than a century-old church (which was elevated to a co-cathedral in 2013 shortly before Pope Benedict’s retirement), serves as the spiritual home for more than 1.9 million churchgoers in the Brooklyn diocese—and was in need of an extensive lighting renovation, which resulted in more than 400 new lights.
“We focus pools of light on the altar, the Bishop’s chair, the Monsignor’s chair, the communion area, and a center aisle walk area in front of the parishioners, where the priest will walk out."
—John “Gonzo” Gonzalez, Lighting Designer, LightTech Group, Jamaica, NY
Jacques Pardovany, vice president of sales for the LightTech Group, has been a parishioner of the church for the past eight years and he got the ball rolling when it came to the project.
“The church had 20 chandeliers and I noticed two weren’t working so I asked Father Jorge if I could fix them for him, and he sent me to Monsignor Harrington,” Pardovany says. “He told me about the plan to redo the church, and so we walked through the church with him and came up with a lighting vision.” Vision mapping
Company president Leon Saddler and lighting designer John “Gonzo” Gonzalez were also part of the initial walkthrough, and together, they created an idea where modern technology would be part of the church use.
“They wanted a church of the 21st century for television use; they wanted to install cameras and have proper lighting for cameras and then lighting for the public and maybe some special events,” Gonzalez says. “Clearly, they had a problem that needed to be solved. We went ahead and suggested to the Monsignor to use green technology as much as possible. The result was 400 LED lights in the church with no incandescents.”
According to Gonzalez, the company’s design made prominent use of 18 Ovation E-190WW LED ellipsoidal fixtures from Chauvet Professional, hung from the balcony area 145 feet from the pulpit and 160 feet from the altar and key light worship areas with flat, even fields of warm white light. Gonzalez directed 11 of the Ovation fixtures at the altar area, three at the pulpit, and aimed four at the organ pipes and a large mural at the rear of the church.
“We focus pools of light on the altar, the Bishop’s chair, the Monsignor’s chair, the communion area, and a center aisle walk area in front of the parishioners, where the priest will walk out,” Gonzalez says. “We also light the area around the organ with this beautiful warm light to give parishioners an inspiring sight as they leave the church. We use the blue side of the spectrum on the focus with the Ovation fixtures so there are no harsh red lens lines visible. At the same time, however, there is a distinction between the illuminated and non-illuminated areas to create a theatrical look.”
The lighting designer also made use of a five-degree lens on most of the fixtures and fired them from below the balcony, about 12 feet off the ground, producing a nice glow for televised services.
“The illumination helps to create an enriched visual experience for worshippers and provides ideal lighting for services broadcast on television,” Gonzalez reports. “The output of these fixtures is very impressive.”