KEY TO QUALITY IS AN ENGAGED CLIENT
‘Originally the plan was to illuminate the soffit but that didn’t happen in the end’
‘We were going to have LED strips under the banquettes but they got value-engineered out’
‘The spec called for Flos Romeo pendants here but the contractor replaced them with
something from his distributor’s catalogue’
‘We wanted daylight-linking, scene-setting and full BMS control but, as you see, we got a
wall switch instead.’
Sadly, and more often than not, reporting on lighting projects is a heart-breaking litany of
What Might Have Beens. A tale of thwarted ambition. A crushing chronicle of compromise.
The lighting spec has to be the most violated, disrespected and corrupted among all the
building services. Is there an argument at the start of the job about brickwork? Does the
order for pressed-steel windows get cancelled in favour or PVC? Do the Herman Miller
chairs get replaced with stuff from Staples? Er, don’t answer that last one.
There’s contraints on all projects – I get that. Indeed, sometimes the genius lies in coming
up with a solution to these restrictions. For instance, in heritage buildings where you’re not
allowed to mount fixtures anywhere. Or you have to use the existing luminaire locations.
Or you’re not allowed put lights in the ceiling (my fantasy restriction). Indeed, many a
lighting award winner was born from the womb of constraint.
Budget is the most obvious – and pervasive – constraint, but this should be challenged.
‘You’re building a billion-dollar facility that’s designed to last a century and you’re installing
sixty-buck fixtures. Really?’
My local wine warehouse recently installed a dozen LED bollards. About half are still
working after a few months, some are missing the optic housing, and two have live cables
exposed to the elements. Another Triumph for ‘Value Engineering’.
The key to success is, of course, keeping the client engaged and supportive.
Of course, it helps enormously if they’re wealthy individuals and not the faceless board of a
municipality. But even still, it’s possible to sell the lighting concept. I’d argue that it’s crucial
to sell – and keep selling until the job is finished.
Often, the most passionate advocate of the lighting on the client side has had an epiphany:
they’ve seen an arresting lighting installation somethere, or maybe their competitor has
gone to town with LEDs.
Which is why exemplar projects are key to a successful industry. We need more of them,
and we need to celebrate and publicise them. Best of all, we need to drag clients from their
offices to visit them.
And once we’ve got them to buy into the lighting, they can compromise on bricks.
Ray Molony, Editor
13 COMMENT LIGHTING MAGAZINE
LIGHTING • JUNE2015