Lighting Districts in the Dark

Lighting Districts in the Dark

Downtown scene of Newark, NJ. 2017.I’ve lived with a fascination of light for a very long time. Walking around seeing buildings and structures during the day makes me wonder, what experience will they convey during the night? Looking at something for me is not the same as seeing it. Looking for me is not inspiring, for in seeing is when we behold the splendor. I like to daydream by seeing the built environment not by how it looks like now but seeing it for what it can be, allowing my mind to be free to envision a beauty revealed by the purity and uniqueness of the original design that is not restrained by careless design or design that doesn’t hold reverence for the natural environment.

I believe we should always design for the people who will inhabit the spaces and environments we light, not the other way around. People will enjoy our designs because of the experience we provide. So how can we enhance the experience? How can we design in a way that is conscious of the environment? As a lighting designer I want to provide the best designed experience that I can within the exterior built environment to everyone and to every community that I can but it has become clear that good design is a balancing act between what looks good, what makes people feel good, what supports the tasks and the site and what allows the natural environment to remain “natural”.

I have become very passionate about the un-built environment, that is to say, the natural world. Nightlife can mean something different to all living forms, to some it is a time to rest, to others a time to explore and learn, and to the nocturnal a time to rise, hunt and fly freely. As human beings we’ve become more and more dependent on nighttime hours to complete tasks and sometimes give way to light pollution for the sake of self-expression. I too love dynamic lighting systems at night but it’s become clear that when lighting is not carefully planned and designed for what we are sacrificing is much greater than what we are gaining. Today, the majority of the population in our large cities cannot see the night sky with their bare eyes. When most of us step outside and look at our skies instead of stars we see light pollution which translates into a disruption of night patterns for wildlife creating an unbalance in our eco-system that affects us in more ways than we realize. Understanding the effects of light pollution and how to prevent it will go a long way in preserving the view of the night sky while creating a partnership with the natural environment. We need to become more aware of the causes (as well as the state of) light pollution in order to be able to begin to take remedial steps into ensuring a view of the night sky. In order to ensure that generations to come can enjoy and learn about the natural world that surrounds us at any given time during our 24-hour day cycle we need to be informed about the state of our local and most important light district: our night sky.

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