This month, we will explore how designers tackled the challenges of upgrading the lighting and controls at a historic cathedral, the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. This project won an Award of Merit. Photography by Anthony Masters Photography. Lighting control design by First Circle Design, LLC. Control product used: Unison Paradigm control system by Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc.
Upgrading the lighting and controls for this historic cathedral presented complex challenges. The existing sanctuary lighting control required manual switching at the breakers. The control systems needed to support the function of an active environment and also provide a dynamic event capacity via simplistic interfaces. Existing conditions offered no lighting control infrastructure, restricted electrical capacity, and limited conduit locations.
Multiple control locations, asynchronous recall of presets, and auto-preset settings for different times of day/days of the week were control requirements for Services. Holidays required an array of predetermined presets, triggered via a push-button. Finally, the system had to be capable of being controlled by an external theatrical console for events.
Wireless data distribution conserved infrastructural penetrations, while a new dimming system provides independent area lighting for Services. A wall-mounted control interface offers Entry presets and a wireless interface manages multiple-location scene selection during Services. A DMX port for an external theatrical console completes the system.
Standard operations run via astronomical time-clock. Entry presets trigger Day, Night, and After Hours scenes.
An access code at the interfaces grants access to further extensive preprogrammed scenes. These can be selected and custom-configured without external programming.
A password protected interface button releases control for theatrical productions.
The architecture and utilization of the Sanctuary determined zoning, providing multiple ‘zones’ for both small and large-scale controllability.
Control zones designated as follows: ‘Pulpit’, ‘Deacon’, ‘Choir’, ‘Reredos’, ‘Balcony’, ‘Gallery’, ‘Rose Window’, and ‘Congregation’.
To allow for specific needs of a speaker/signer, all key-lighting is individually controlled via virtual slider on the touch-screen.
The control system was designed to provide automated operational triggers and any-time, live-event flexibility, with minimal infrastructural impact. Utilizing wireless DMX in conjunction with LED technology
preserves the historic grandeur of the cathedral and also successfully addresses the complex challenges of a flexible and dynamic environment.