This month, we will explore the role that lighting controls play to create special lighting effects as part of the lobby wall at LLB Architects’ offices at 161 Exchange Street in Pawtucket, RI. Lighting control design by Katherine Abernathy LC, IALD and Jason Rainone IALD, LEED AP BD+C, lighting designers, Abernathy Lighting Design, Inc. Lighting and controls by Lumenpulse and LANBox.
The lobby of this office building features a creative application of advanced lighting controls which highlights collaborative design. This wall is a changing statement of the environment; a visual representation of the primary characteristics of the weather at the present moment.
The wall is composed of four translucent frosted acrylic panels, each 36”x96”. Each panel has a return extending from the panel to the back wall to provide color separation between adjacent panels. Below each panel is a DMX-512 controllable 3’-0” 10×60° LED color-changing luminaire which provides for relatively maintenance free programmable illumination while still meeting the project’s budget requirements.
In coordination with the System’s Integrator, the lighting control system employs an internet connected desktop computer linked via Ethernet to a solid state DMX-512 lighting controller capable of multiple simultaneous cue stacks. Every hour, the computer accesses publicly available weather data for the local area from the National Weather Service and parses out the values for the four characteristics the wall represents; Wind Speed, Air Pressure, Relative Humidity, and Temperature. For each weather characteristic, an independent color gradient was established and programmed into the controller. For example, the Temperature gradient runs from blue for cooler temperatures to red for warmer temperatures.
The results are then mapped to a value between 0% and 100% and applied as a position along each gradient to create a colorized representation of the weather for that hour. The resulting changes are staggered, one panel every 15 minutes with lighting fades occurring over several seconds to ensure that abrupt changes don’t draw the eye.
The installation has a rated life of 120,000 hrs and draws only 207 watts. The result is a low maintenance, budget friendly installation which stands as a subtle, ever changing representation of the world outside the lobby door, created through technology and light.