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Battelle Grand, Greater Columbus Convention Center, Ohio, USA

Issue 63 Oct / Nov 2011 : Architecture : Performance


Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design has created an exciting scheme using LED-lit ceiling fins to give the bland auditorium a facelift.

65,000 colour changing combinations of LED accent luminaires create a spectacular wavelike effect as lines of light integrated into floating architectural ceiling fins transform the experience of light and space at the renovated and expanded Battelle Grand located within the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Ohio. This preeminent ballroom now boasts a 50,000 square foot main floor with a 24,000 square foot mezzanine, making it the largest ballroom in the state of Ohio.

Illumination, architecture and materiality all unite in what has been praised as a “marvellous experience realm” by the publisher of The Official Columbus Visitors Guide. Lighting was a key component for the $40 million face-lift and included energy-efficient and long lamp-life sources such as induction and LED.

Built as part of the original convention centre in the 1980’s, the existing hall consisted of an austere space with minimal architectural detailing and finishes, and the lighting system was comprised of utilitarian luminaires lamped with outdated HID technology. The revitalised illumination by HLB Lighting Design contributed to the realisation of the client’s objective and the overall design goal of creating a flexible, high-end facility that was technically capable of supporting a wider range of functions for more varied venue opportunities by the client, including banquets, conferences, exhibitions, sporting events and performances. The lighting design met the difficult challenges of achieving these extensive functional and aesthetic needs of the space, while also meeting budget and energy code constraints.

To assist in addressing flexibility goals, HLB specified an LED colour changing system. The constraints of mandated exhibition space parameters did not allow for permanent objects to extend lower than the planned architectural dropped ceiling, thus luminaires integrated into the ceiling plane took the place of a more traditional chandelier-type large scale expression. Initially the client envisioned basic colour themes for the system that could be associated with trademarks or branding of their potential exhibitors or event sponsors.

However, once HLB was able to fully demonstrate the capabilities of the system during mock-ups, the client’s excitement grew regarding the actual extended possibilities of the system that led to additional kinetic pre-sets added during the construction phase.

The LED luminaires were uniquely integrated into approximately a quarter of the architectural fin elements that drop from the ballroom ceiling. Budgeting and energy restrictions prevented light located on all fins, however, the luminaires were organised in such a way as to create distinct wavelike effects across the length of the ceiling in response to the existing building structure patterning. Detailing of the fixtures at the bottom of the fins in a manner that did not add mass or disrupt the clean linear form was a tricky challenge. HLB selected high output fixtures with small profiles and, working hand-in-hand with the architect, designed a mounting channel that was as minimal in size as possible while still able to house the LED assemblies.

The ETC Paradigm control system design provides discreet DMX control of each fin panel and allows for the almost limitless possibilities of static and kinetic scenes appropriate for the wide variety of uses in the ballroom. The ceiling above the fins was painted a reflective colour that captures the blended light for a greater depth of experience and is able to produce a range of supplementary effects from a twilight sky to a dramatic sunset depending on the different colour combination options chosen for the lighting system. The specified control system also allows for the permanent LED luminaires to synchronise with temporary event illumination for seamless incorporation into specialty and performance lighting schemes.

The general illumination is provided by downlight cylinders fitted slightly above and between the fin panels utilising a combination of both induction and halogen lamps, accommodating flexibility for functions requiring 60 footcandles to those that require only a few footcandles.

Due to the high quantity of downlights, they were carefully placed in relation to the fins both in distance from, as well as height above, to avoid scalloping of light on the fins themselves and minimisation of their visual impact. The induction lamping addresses maintenance and sustainability goals by delivering 100,000 hour lamp life, while the halogen lamping addresses flexibility goals by allowing for lower light levels suitable for more intimate settings. Ceramic metal halide downlights in lowered soffits balance the illumination levels at the room perimeter. As part of the renovation design led by LMN Architects and Karlsberger Architects, the once fully enclosed space was opened up floor-to-ceiling on the south wall, developing a visual connection to the heart of the city and introducing the benefit of natural light.

The colour changing motif is brought through into the prefunction area by integrating LED luminaires into jut-out details highlighting the grand feature wall. The controls allow for the synchronisation of the colour of light with the ballroom LED fixtures, creating an excitement and anticipation as visitors approach the ballroom for what lies beyond, as well as a connectivity between the two spaces.

The ballroom’s renewal truly provides the ability for the expression of a wide variety of dynamic and transformative experiences and, as a result, the Battelle Grand is “the new place to be” according to the Columbus Dispatch, quickly becoming the venue of choice for major corporations and community organisations alike. The distinctive illumination for this premiere facility has been awarded a 2011 Lumen West Award of Excellence and an IESNA Illumination Award of Merit.


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