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John and Frances Angelos Law Centre, Baltimore, USA

Issue 78 April / May 2014 : Architectural : Education


The John and Frances Angelos Law Centre is a new Baltimore landmark. MCLA Architectural Lighting Design produced a design that matched the building’s progressive vision.

The new, 12-storey John and Frances Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore, completed in April 2013, was conceived as a transformative, architectural landmark for the campus and the City of Baltimore.

Behnisch Architeken, in partnership with Ayers Saint Gross, developed a concept for the site that utilised the use of form, volume and materials to express the building’s functions. The project also made a commitment to sustainable solutions, giving primacy to daylight throughout the building.

Working closely with the architects, MCLA Architectural Lighting Design understood and embraced the progressive nature of the project. When the design process began in 2008, MCLA pursued a solution that included a mix of sources including fluorescent, metal halide and LED.

However with rapid advancements in LED technology and fixture design, it quickly became clear that LEDs would provide not only a more energy efficient solution but also offered new opportunities for creative lighting design that would support and enhance the bold architecture.

The building’s architecture is shaped by three interlocking L-shaped volumes, which articulate the functions of the building’s classrooms, offices, legal clinic, and the law library.

At the heart of the building is a narrow, sky lit atrium that connects the three volumes together. In addition to linking the central program spaces, the atrium also encloses the lobby, two coffee bars and a handful of informal work and meeting spaces.

Beyond its connective value, the atrium is critical to the technical performance of the building. Daylight spills into the space from exterior and interior wall glazing, brightening the shallow floor plates to maximize daylight and visual access to daylight for interior workspaces.

At the same time, it creates a transparent and communicative interior, visually linking public space, teaching space, and administrative space in an open environment.

Glazed office partitions allow daylight to enter from exterior walls through the office and into the interior corridors and shared spaces, reducing the need for artificial lighting.

The glazed classroom partitions create visual continuity between the teaching spaces and the public areas, while the activity of the students and the general hubbub of the faculty acts to bring the atrium to life.

Although a great asset, the abundant daylight required some visual balance. Given the higher illumination level along the perimeter, careful attention was focused on the internal areas, which do not benefit as much from the daylight. A slightly higher illumination level and accents on vertical surfaces near the building’s core allow the interior areas to appear as bright as the perimeter areas. A bonus was that the energy efficiency, long life and minimal heat of LEDs allowed for greater creativity in the design of the luminaires.

Although the owner’s ambitious goal was 100 per cent LED usage throughout the building, the lighting design ultimately incorporated LED in 95 per cent of the building’s spaces including the central lobby atrium, terraced study spaces, 300-seat moot court room, law clinic, classrooms, 32,000sqf library and the auditorium.

In consideration of the State of Maryland’s requirement for a competitive bidding process and the use of evolving LED technology on the project, MCLA developed performance-based specifications for all lighting including a custom, disc-shaped luminaire with a ceiling mount for use throughout the building. A 1,640-lumen fixture, with a colour temperature of 3,000 kelvin, provides the intensity of a 100-watt incandescent A lamp. Seen from across the spaces, the luminaire’s acrylic plate offers an even glow; viewed straight on, the diodes are clearly visible.

As a result of the combination of LED and daylighting the installed Lighting Power Density measures .76 watts per square foot, or approximately 25 per cent less than code and better than the ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007 by 43 per cent. This contributes significantly to the LEED Platinum rating the project has recently been awarded.

This efficient, innovative lighting solution creates a warm, inviting evening environment for the students and the faculty as a whole.

Because the school is still active after sunset, the artificial light becomes a more prominent feature. For the atrium, the building’s signature space, Behnisch Architeken collaborated with Zumtobel on a multi-panel chandelier, which forms the centrepiece of the lighting design. MCLA further refined the configuration, lumen output, orientation and mounting height for each fixture.

The 334mm x 434mm acrylic panels are translucent from most viewing angles and transparent when viewed directly. Suspended by steel cables the chandeliers help to create a sense of scale without obstructing views or daylight. Descending into the atrium, the fixtures serve as impressive visual features and provide the perception of a brighter environment.

To provide flexibility and minimize energy usage, a central dimming system manages the lighting. The central control integrates with an array of photosensors and occupancy sensors throughout the building.

When adequate natural light is present (measured 500 lux in the classrooms), the lighting will dim and eventually turn off. All lighting within eight metres of the glazing is dimmable, an area where there is the most to be gained in energy efficiency. In addition to this, automated sunshades operate during sunny conditions to control glare and heat gain.

The atrium and library lighting operate based on the time of day with an override provided by the photosensors. Occupancy sensors and photosensors govern the classrooms, seminar rooms, group study rooms, offices and conference rooms and MCLA developed a series of present scenes for each space, which guide the system programming.

With daylight controls alone, the University can expect to save an additional 40 per cent to 60 per cent in power. Occupancy sensors further reduce the energy load by turning lights out when rooms including the classrooms, private study, restrooms and corridors are not in use.

A spirit of collaboration among the architects, lighting designers and manufacturers set the tone for this project from the very beginning. The lighting design has brought Behnisch Architeken’s innovative, daylight-driven aspirational scheme to life, while incorporating the latest advancements in LED technology and control systems to achieve a luminous, energy-efficient design that maximizes wellbeing for the occupants and cost savings for the client.


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