Courtney and I have had some fun this summer sprucing up the office a little bit! Here are a few photos of our projects.
Next, we gave the furniture a facelift. It was a nice little one-day project that turned into three...or four...
But with the office update, we are ready to tackle what's shaping up to be a busy fall.
When the announcement about the City of Detroit bankruptcy hit the news last week, one of the main points about how tough things had become in the city was that nearly half of the city's street lights don't work. Naturally, this caught my attention! How long has it been this way? Why? Are there sections of the city that have been deliberately switched off, or are they just eliminating lighting maintenance, leaving lights out all over town as they fail? Is this actually a bad thing? Or have they found that the lights were unnecessary and that living without them is fine?
Here's what I learned:
Detroit is deliberately reducing its street lighting load. It is not, however, the only city turning off lights to save money! Other municipalities who have opted to save energy and money by reducing street lighting include Colorado Springs, CO, Santa Rosa, CA, Rockford, IL, and Upper Dublin Township in Montgomery County, PA to name just a few.
Not everyone thinks turning off the street lights is a bad idea. In fact, there are some who say that turning off street lights is plain old fashioned smart. Consider the positions of the International Dark Sky Association or the 2008 National Geographic article, Our Vanishing Night.
Even though academic research shows no significant evidence to link street lighting with reduced crime, the general public seems to associate street lighting with safety. There is also no doubt that lighting can improve pedestrian and bicyclist visibility and can reduce automobile crashes in accident-prone areas.
I wonder if there is a better solution? Perhaps better car headlights? Or streetlights that come on only when people are present? How can we use technology to save people and the planet, too?
At the start of my career whenever I attended a meeting, I often found myself to be the youngest person and the only woman in the room. Nowadays I am not typically the youngest person in the room, but all too often I am still the only woman.
Why are there so few women in our profession? And what can I do to make sure the ones there are (or the ones who have been) do not get forgotten?
The architecture community is currently in a bit of an uproar over the fact that Denise Scott Brown was not included in her husband and partner Robert Venturi's 1991 Pritzker Prize Award. In fact, Despina Stratigakos recently wrote a wonderful article about "Unforgetting" Women Architects and Architecture Magazine is challenging its readers to recommend a woman architect for a Wikipedia article to be written by the magazine. I even just learned that Frank Lloyd Wright's first employee was a woman architect.
One of my more popular old blog posts includes a little story about a lighting designer named Lesley Wheel. She was the first female architectural lighting designer, and a great mentor to many people. I think so highly of Lesley's ideas and her work that I'm currently helping to author a book about her design philosophies.
What are you doing to encourage women in our profession? What else needs to change so that the lighting design profession doesn't follow architecture in overlooking this talented segment of our membership? Are we too late? The Wikipedia entry under "Lighting Design" lists 13 men and one woman, the talented Motoko Ishii of Japan. The IES, a 107-year-old organization has only had three female presidents. Maybe lighting designers have some Wikipedia editing to do, as well.
Ever wonder how they change the lamps on those super-high poles along highway interchanges?
They do NOT use a 100' ladder!
My response? I think the lights were lovely, but I will admit that I had initially hoped to see them from the south. Then I learned that the lights were only installed on the north side of the bridge. Even art gets value engineered, I suppose. Next, I stopped halfway across the bridge hoping to view the show from Treasure Island, but again I was disappointed to discover that the LED lights were aimed toward the city of San Francisco and since LED lights are directional, they weren't visible from the east at all. I had driven enough miles at this point that the additional couple of miles to cross the bridge and see the show from the intended vantage point of the Embarcadero was no big deal.
I hate the critic's suggestion that the art was aimed this direction just to provide it for the affluent residents and the tourists. I would love to know Leo Villareal's response to this criticism. What were the design constraints? What went into his decisions about where to locate and direct the LEDs?
Do you think this installation of LED lights is positive, negative, or neutral for the lighting industry? Is it a good way to get the general public talking about and discovering lighting as an important element in the built environment?
I have been teaching an intro to lighting class this month (and haven't been updating the blog...whoops!) While giving the lecture on luminaires I noticed how many light fixtures are named for their shape - it's kind of fun.
Have I missed some? Does any lighting jargon make you chuckle?
It's another cloudy, snowy day here in St. Louis, and I'm longing for summer! That got me looking through some pictures from back in June, and I decided to share these two with you just for fun.
See the pole going straight up into the middle of this tree?
There's a light at the top of it!
Not much light reaches the ground, though...
Have a great weekend, be well, and create beauty!
I am excited to announce that I am now a guest blogger on Graybar.com! Graybar is an electrical distributor with corporate headquarters right here in St. Louis.
Watch for educational lighting posts both here and at Graybar.com - by yours truly. And coming soon...a webinar for Graybar.
I am thrilled to partner with Graybar while extending the reach of ENvisionLD.
While reading my latest issue of Natural Health Magazine, this quote from the back page caught my eye:
For many of us, Monday through Friday means slogging through traffic to sit for hours under soul-sucking fluorescents in back-breaking office chairs. But you can make your workdays healthier - mentally and physically - by making over your space with these tips.
"Oh boy!" I thought, "my magazine is going to address lighting quality. Yay!" But I went on to read suggestions that ranged from getting a fish tank or a potted plant to making ergonomic adjustments to the furniture and meditation to manage stress. No mention whatsoever of how to address the lighting quality problem. Even a paragraph about getting up and walking around only addressed the aspect of stretching. How about taking that walk outside to get exposure to sunlight? Or at least walking to a window for the emotional boost of the view?
If you find your fluorescent lighting to truly be soul-sucking, might I make a suggestion or two?
How about you? What have you done to take the "soul-sucking" out of your fluorescent office lighting?
Vincent Van Gogh is quoted, "I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day."
I just finished reading In Praise of Shadows by Jun' ichiro Tanizaki, first published in Japan in 1933 and 1934. It is a thought-provoking look at electric light as an intrusion on daily life and traditions. It eloquently presents the perspective of a novelist - not an artist or a lighting designer or an architectural professional - on light. He makes a solid case for the enhanced beauty of materials such as lacquer and gold leaf in the shadows where even a frail glimmer of light generates a vibrant sparkle, as opposed to bright light, where luster is totally flattened. He laments, "So benumbed are we nowadays by electric lights that we have become utterly insensitive to the evils of excessive illumination." One example he cites, "people will light the lights, then switch on an electric fan to combat the heat. The very thought annoys me."
Fast forward eighty years.
We have now illuminated most of the inhabited planet, some of it beautifully, other bits garishly. For whatever reason we seldom pause to appreciate the dark but are drawn to light like moths to flame, myself included. Since reading In Praise of Shadows I will accept Tanizaki's challenge (and Van Gogh's) to find the richness and beauty in darkness. As a lighting designer I will do my part to keep the stars visible so that I, my children, and the generations to come can see them...and dream.
Van Gogh also said, "For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream."
Lisa J. Reed, lighting designer and Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC