20 December 2007

"Unfinished Business" :: Advanced Environmental Systems :: Project #3

Third time's a charm, right? Well in my case, the third big project I had to complete in my very first semester in USC's Master of Building Science program was a struggle from the get-go. The class, Advanced Environmental Systems, focused on all aspects of lighting design, from daylighting strategies, to light fixtures, to real-life applications of both. I was pretty excited about this course: lighting design is an integral part of any building, and although I had dabbled in it while practicing, I never really got the hang of it.

We hit the ground running in this class. In our first meeting together, we created teams; in the first four weeks of class, our teams made models, tracked shadows in daylight, and discovered various methods by which we could get sunlight into spaces without creating glare or leaving dark corners (I'll give you a hint: it involves diffuse light).

Then we took our first stab at an actual lighting design in a space. OK, so I'm not used to this, right? When I had to select light fixtures in my former job, I would call my lighting reps and they would basically do this for me. I admit it. I am not a natural at lighting design. I did the best I could on this first project and learned about light fixtures from it, and then set my sights on the final - the competition.

The final project for this class was a competition, of our choosing, which had something to do with lighting design. Half of the class chose to design a light fixture, and the other half took another stab at the lighting design of a space. I chose the latter. The Saul Goldin Memorial Scholarship Lighting Fund awards were "established to encourage and recognize students in Southern California who have shown an understanding of and interest in light and it's effect on the Built Environment."

The competition this year is to design the lighting of a sushi restaurant. Since the competition is ongoing, and actually won't be decided until May, I can't tell you much about my entry or concept. I thought I might give you an image from my board but then I realized that was probably a bad idea as well. So instead I will show you one of the light fixtures I decided to use - the really cool chandelier pictured below - and tell you about a web site that I found very useful throughout my design process. It's called eLumit.com, and it's a search and specification tool for lighting design professionals. Basically if you have a particular type of light in mind that you want to use in your design, you can search for it on eLumit, and chances are it will give you plenty of options for fixtures. Then you can add it to your "project" and it will give you important information for the respective fixtures, like spec sheets and wattage. For an amateur lighting designer such as myself, it was a great resource to have at my disposal throughout the process.

Fabbian Lighting's Medusa chandelier

So, if you're still reading, first of all, give yourself a gold star, because that was a lot of information. Secondly, that concludes the posts detailing the 3 major projects that I worked on this semester. But....I had a 4th class. It was thesis prep. That is one huge project, and I'm not going to get into that just yet. I've got plenty of time to touch on it in the next 18 months that I'll be working on it!

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