Team partnership in lighting design renovation highlighted

Transformative lighting design reinvigorated a Michigan church to help better light the architecture, improve maintenance, and reduce energy costs.


Courtesy of Peter Basso Associates Inc.According to Illuminart Principal, Robert White IALD, LC, IESNA, "design is best as a group effort. Everyone should be involved from the beginning to the end." That's a philosophy that was embraced by the church leadership and the design/construction team for the Church of the Holy Family renovation in Novi, Mich. The team was tasked with providing renovation design that would:

  • Increase light levels to make the church more comfortable and improve reading conditions,
  • Better light the architecture,
  • Improve maintenance,
  • Use energy more wisely,
  • Provide better lighting control for everyday mass as well as Eucharistic celebrations and special events like weddings and
  • Minimize costs and maximize impact.

Knowing the design needs and wishes of the church community from the onset enabled the design team to quickly establish goals. The decision to include lighting design services during the purchase and installation of the lighting helped to streamline the construction process and keep the project moving forward.

Utilizing a combination of indirect cove as well as ambient downlights, Illuminart was able to increase light levels and enhance visual comfort. The striking ceiling was lit for the first time and the ability to read hymnals was greatly improved. Accent lighting also serves to highlight the tabernacle, crucifix, Stations of the Cross, as well as a small chapel off to the side. A new lighting controls interface was connected to the existing dimming system to provide easier to control options to change light settings. Different color options were added to new coves around the tabernacle to match the changing colors of the liturgical calendar.

In most projects lighting requires post construction adjustments to tune the lighting to its designed intent. When dimmable, color changing and adjustable lighting is involved, the lighting designer's involvement is critical. Illuminart worked through the completed project, adjusting how the lights were aimed and also adjusting the width of the light distribution.

"Knowing the design intent of our client and protecting it through completion of the project makes a huge difference. The lighting designer's ability to get on a ladder and work with the contractor to properly adjust lighting can make an area that appears dark much brighter when focused correctly. This is critical for the owner's critique of the completed project. What may have looked unsatisfactory before the site focus will look well planned, balanced, and bright after the site focus.

Being able to adjust the lighting for this project is a great example of how that team partnership through the duration of the project, provides just the right balance, ultimately satisfying the leadership of the church and the community the church serves," said White.

Camille Thompson, Peter Basso Associates Inc. This article originally appeared on Peter Basso Associates' blog. Peter Basso Associates is a CFE Media content partner.

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