deep hinterland of experience. The sheer number of
environments that they will have created is far greater
and they will have a huge visual library by comparison
with others in their new field.
In the US, architectural lighting design pioneer
Howard Brandston (Lighting Vol 48 Issue 4 2016) was
a protégé of McCandless, his roots firmly in drama
before he switched to the arguably less precarious and
more permanent business of architectural lighting
in the 1960s. Other leading US practitioners with
a theatrical backdrop include David Mintz, Jules
Fisher, Paul Marantz, Don Holder and Bill Richardson.
In the UK, theatrical lighting techniques and
technologies probably started to find their way into
architectural lighting in 1981, when David Hersey, the
theatrical lighting designer who subsequently founded
the architectural lighting consultancy DHA Designs in
1988, worked on the musical Cats.
The show had a bigger impact than its small budget
presaged, making a splash in the Sunday newspapers,
which, in those days, were influential on opinion and
fashion in the UK. The publicity drew the attention
of casino magnate Steve Wynn who hired Hersey
and fellow Tony Award-winner Andrew Bridge,
respectively, to light the exterior and interior of the
Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
Architectural lighting has a far longer history than this,
in that buildings were already being illuminated, but
here was a watershed.
The Bellagio project led to Bridge, then at Imagination,
floodlighting the Lloyds of London headquarters with
a blue wash, where, love it or hate it, his use of colour
was transformative. Now, clients aspired to buildings
with emotional impact. Meanwhile, with the wider use
of the MR16 multi-reflector lamp, theatrical lighting
techniques such as the use of Fresnels and gobos were
gaining traction in interior lighting schemes, even
in some cases providing an antidote to the dreary
industrialised lighting that prevailed in the workplace.
Among the pioneering British lighting designers who
made the transition in the 1980s were Maurice Brill of
MBLD, and André Tammes, who co-founded Lighting
Design Partnership with Jonathan Speirs in 1984. Since
then dozens of designers have moved from theatre to
architecture and are now lead practices of their own.
So, in addition to being a wellspring of inspiration,
theatre continues to have a profound effect on the
theory and practice of architectural lighting design.
l Mark Ridler is head of lighting at international
multidisciplinary practice BDP and himself started
in theatre lighting
Peter Mumford’s lighting for
the English National Opera’s
production of Madam Butterfly,
which has now been revived
six times. His dramatic use of
blocks of colour transformed
an almost bare stage into an
epic world, said critics