adg lighting - architectural detail group

Monthly Archives: July 2008

Impact of Lighting on the Architecture of a Building

Lighting gives everything a dramatic flair. Even though many argue that daylight is the best light for viewing, nighttime provides the opportunity to use artifice and artistic details to make a building stand out.

For example, consider the Los Angeles Library in downtown. The Library was originally built in 1926, in a “Modernist/Beaux Arts style.” Although taller, bigger buildings surround it, it still manages to hold its own on the horizon, especially at night. Why? Because lighting is a key element to changing the aesthetic of a building.

During the day, the LA Library is an architectural marvel; you can see each brick and tile that was used. Daylight impacts the building from all angles, revealing all and leaving nothing to the imagination. Daylight bounces off the horizontal, vertical planes of a building’s exterior, allowing each detail to shine. But daylight also lights the surrounding buildings as well, so while the architecture of the library makes it stand out, daylight makes it blend in.

The best impact of a building comes at night, via artificial means. Lamps at lights reveal only some planes of the building, allowing a lighting to designer to emphasize the most aesthetic parts of a building, creating a sense of drama and highlighting the details of the Modernist/Beaux Art style, like the pyramid-style tower.

Good lighting helps accentuate the architect’s intention, allowing the design to stand on its own while still fitting in with the surrounding environment.