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.
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 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.
Over the weekend my family and I had the pleasure of helping sort lights for the Holiday Light Recycling Drive with St. Louis Green. I love volunteering alongside my family, and the fact that proceeds from this event supported a great cause - Operation Food Search - made it even better.
The goal is for 128,000 pounds of waste to be diverted from landfills. The lesson for me as I sorted? Be careful what you buy!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? We do a lot of recycling these days. Maybe we should take a closer look at the first word in that phrase...reduce.
It is so easy to get caught up in consumerism, but what if we remember to refrain from making unnecessary purchases? Isn't that the most "green" choice of all? It may not stimulate the economy like "going shopping" but reduction makes good economic sense on a personal level.
One of our sorting tasks this weekend was to separate cardboard from lights, and in many cases there were brand new boxes of lights that had never been used. I kept wondering what scenario would lead to someone depositing brand new boxes of lights into the red recycling bins. But then again, I have some "extra" unused lights stored away in a box in the basement myself. Do you have boxes of unopened holiday lights at home? What future purchases can we avoid if only we remember step #1? Reduce.
Envision Lighting Design, LLC is now an official WBE in St. Louis. We are happy to announce that our application for WBE status was confirmed and accepted by the St. Louis Airport Authority, effective December 18, 2012. So if excellent lighting design wasn't enough, now ELD helps you fulfill your WBE participation requirements, too!
Envision Lighting Design, LLC is also a State of Missouri certified WBE.
As promised, here are my IES Conference notes! If you missed the Conference in Minneapolis two weeks ago, you missed a good one. If you were there, feel free to add comments about the seminars and paper sessions you attended.
For me, the Conference began on Saturday when we hosted 40 students and emerging lighting professionals with a full day of topics designed just for them. We toured an award-winning U of M campus building, had portfolio reviews, and gave everyone time to "speed network" with all kinds of lighting professionals. Our opening keynote speaker is an emerging professional herself - Maja Petric shared her inspirational use of light in her art. Her most architectural work used LED light to pour through cracks in a tunnel ceiling to illuminate the inside of the tunnel. The color temperature and intensity of the light changes throughout the day to mirror the current outdoor light conditions. See that project and more of her beautiful work here. It was her work that inspired me to post this.
When the Conference-proper kicked off on Sunday, we danced the night away to the delightful sounds of Stefan Graf's lighting industry band, Black Body Locusts. Special thank you's go to Naomi Miller for writing hilarious lighting lyrics for the band to sing and to Lance Bennett / Cooper Lighting for sponsoring the band!
The next day the dean of the University of Minnesota School of Design, Thomas Fisher, challenged us to not just problem solve, but problem seek. Design thinking is valuable beyond the making of things. He even wondered if universities should be restructured - not around disciplines, but around world challenges. In this format, the iterative process of abductive reasoning could be put to work: seeing connections between things that are seemingly different. Who knows the discoveries that would follow? Are we defining our industry correctly? Is it lighting? Or perhaps we are in the human productivity business? This led the way for professor Blaine Brownell to describe the lighting immersion project created by his architectural students. They gather all kinds of materials and, working in teams, build a light of some kind. Some of the projects make statements, some are portable, some explore the idea of light as an object that occupies space rather than illuminating it. All of these projects are unexpected and creative. For more from Blaine Brownell, start here then read one of his books.
Next I attended the "LIGHT+ SENIORS Symposium Summary and Review." All I can say is - wow - am I ever sorry I missed the symposium! The Summary and Review was so full of information that I'll revisit this one later in a blog post all its own.
If I thought I was mentally saturated before the "Smart Lighting - Beyond Ordinary" session, I certainly was afterward. This future-casting session covered everything from the invention of LED to synthetic LED skylights (light + video) to the use of blue light "patches" for pain therapy (light + medicine) and of course, the new hue LED from Philips sold in your local Apple store (light + apps.) Light carries information. Imagine one day using our light sources instead of broadband... It's all about the fusion of lighting and other disciplines. Are you catching the theme? The whole conference theme of synapses and connections was repeated through many sessions where interdisciplinary interaction was lauded and encouraged.
Monday night's entertainment was a private screening of the documentary The City Dark. It was fun seeing some of our very own IES Conference attendees (Howard Brandston) on the big screen. The movie itself pits lighting on earth against the night sky's fading natural lights and challenges us to balance the two. Heavy.
The next morning's keynote speaker was Mark Major who picked up the dark sky theme with excerpts from a National Geographic article on Light Pollution. What should we be more afraid of? The dark? Or what we are doing to the night? The work of Speirs + Major is always breathtaking, and hearing this one presentation was worth every penny I spent on the entire conference.
In the next session, I was privileged to introduce my fellow KU alumnus, Zachary Suchara, who spoke on human factors in lighting. When was the last time you considered your humanity as it relates to lighting? Humans are phototropic. Exactly how we experience light varies based on where we live on the planet. Zach had many other fascinating points including this one: In the past 20 years, there have been more new lamp types developed than in all the other years of human history put together. He closed the session with a great case study in which the developers exploited the human factor by turning the building systems into a game. Tenants in the building actually compete with each other to see who can use the least energy. It reminded me a little of watching the gauges on our Toyota Prius to see how many miles per gallon we can get per trip.
The Conference included many more papers, some political pundits, the always-popular Progress Committee presentation, a wonderful Illumination Awards dinner, other Society Awards, and lots of networking. For me, it was one of the best IES Conferences ever. How about for you?
Lighting upgrade - Foundry Art Centre - St. Charles, MO
The existing lights at the Foundry Art Centre were cute but impractical. The gallery serves as a temporary home to changing exhibits, and the existing lights could not stand up to the wear and tear of being moved, removed, replaced, and changed on a regular basis. What's more, the low voltage rail system had a voltage drop problem, the MR16 lamps consumed 50 Watts each, and they were too hot to be aimed/focused while the lights were on.
Go check it out! The current exhibit, organized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, will be on display at the Foundry Art Centre through December 14, 2012. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
This year's St. Louis IES Illumination Awards event was again declared the "best" by many attendees! We had a beautiful time, enjoyed a Planetarium Star show, then were entertained by our own stars' interviews on a mock "Ronahue" Show about their lighting design projects. Three Illumination Award projects were introduced via movie previews. See the movie previews here:
Watch the St. Louis IES website for more details about this event and for information about future events.
What have I been doing? I'm glad you asked!
The IES St. Louis Illumination Awards event is upon us! On Thursday, September 20, those most passionate about lighting in St. Louis will gather at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium to celebrate the art and science of lighting and its impact on our community.
I have been the chair of this great event for five years now. We have had casino-themed, baseball-themed, and kids-at-play themed events. This year it will be all about the stars.
The evening will begin with a red-carpet welcome followed by a Planetarium star show and then our own stars will take the stage. We will wrap up with a delicious catered buffet dinner and all guests will go home with over $40 worth of party favors. This night will include our signature light-hearted and delightful approach.
Hope to see you there!
Envision Lighting Design, LLC is now a registered Program Ally of the Ameren Illinois ActOnEnergy Efficiency Program! What does that mean? We've been through training so that we can navigate the energy incentives available to Ameren Illinois customers.
What a bargain! They want to GIVE YOU MONEY for doing the right thing in lighting, but some of the incentives are about to expire. New energy standards are phasing out production of some lamp types in the USA. As of July 2012, production of most T12 fluorescent lamps will end. If your facility still has T12 fluorescent lamps installed, you can receive a rebate from Ameren for each lamp you replace with a more efficient option! Of course, these rebates are about to be discontinued since production of the T12 lamp is being discontinued. If you complete your project by March 31, you will receive a $3-$7 per lamp rebate PLUS a 10% bonus PLUS an early completion coupon for a 10% bonus on your next project. Act now because all T12 rebates will end on May 31, 2012. Seriously, they are paying you to put in products that will save you money. This one is an obvious choice.
If you want to know more about rebates available through the ActOnEnergy program, contact Envision Lighting Design!
Lisa J. Reed, lighting designer and Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC