The Lighting Control Innovation Award was created in 2011 as part of the Illuminating Engineering Society’s Illumination Awards program, which recognizes professionalism, ingenuity and originality in lighting design. LCA is proud to sponsor the Lighting Control Innovation Award, which recognizes projects that exemplify the effective use of lighting controls in nonresidential applications.
This month, we explore a dynamic, complex lighting controls installation at the Wiess Energy Hall at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Lighting control design by Christensen Lighting. Photography by the Houston Museum of Natural Science and Paul Bernhard Exhibit Design and Consulting. Lighting and controls by Pharos Architectural Controls and Philips Color Kinetics. Lighting networking components by Pathway Connectivity and Cisco.
This exhibit is a 30,000 square foot project three years in the making. Every lighting element is programmable which allowed easily achieved balance of brightness, color, and contrast of
the whole exhibit hall. The lighting control system consists of three different servers broadcasting more than 160 universes of DMX data over sACN/KiNET. The servers control more than 75 timelines from basic animations to visitor-activated lighting. Three SMPTE interfaces were used to sync complex lighting animations with two 4D theaters and a day-to-night interactive video presentation.
A total of 1,649 conventional LED luminaires, 6,900 LED nodes, 1,248 feet of animated tape light, 1,040 feet of static tape light, and nine LED moving lights were used on this project. Due to the several thousands of LEDs to control, the designers created a “Design Group” to uniquely name groups of fixtures. This “Design Group” name was used to patch, organize, and program the servers. They created drawings that show every luminaire, driver, cable, adapter, and “Design Group” used on the project, allowing construction of databases with exact control requirements.
The entire exhibit has a RGBW downlight system with a DMX-controlled motorized zoom allowing for just the right-sized pool of colored light per exhibit area. This system also allows for the event marketing team to change the downlighting color for parties as required. A simple iPad app was developed so the staff could change the color, intensity, and size of the downlights as required for a private function or party.
The lighting control system simply receives an ON command from the AV system at the start of the day and an OFF command at the end of the day. No other interaction by museum staff or technicians is required.
Sculptures are lit with a slow wave light animation. A glowing line has subtle energy bursts. Graphics are rear lit or grazed.
The cubed exhibit wall is rear cross-lit with narrow high lumen luminaires to create a slowly morphing glow.
Inside this 4D-experience, visitors are surrounded by lighting to distinguish different environments. The lighting creates the illusion that you are inside a vehicle drilling underground.
The animated lines of lighting are carefully synchronized to show how hydrocarbon products are formed. Every half inch of linear light is controlled.
The immersive 4D Geovator Experience is surrounded by a glowing floor and other exhibits. The pools of overhead lighting can be changed for parties.
This animated tunnel is part of “Pigging” experience where visitors compete to clean their oil pipes. This exhibit is built with several universes of DMX.
Overhead, thousands of custom LED pixels form as a topographic map. Subtle animation is run through the maps.
A working drill bit is lit along with its textured earth vertical surfaces. The lighting animates and matches the speed of the drill bit.
Seatbacks, beams, overhead cove and pathways are all illuminated with animated lines of light. Lighting animations are synced via SMPTE with the 4D show.
A generator is lit with color to show the warm heat transfer to blue electricity. The electricity moves through lines of light in the exhibit.