Daylighting Masterpiece: Valparaiso University’s Chapel of the Resurrection

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Once upon a time I was a guest LD for Valparaiso University‘s production of Anna Karenina, that was chosen to go to the American College Theatre Festival (KC/ACTF) Regional show.  There’s only so much cueing you can do in a sitting, and one day I decided to get inspired on campus and visited the University chapel, called the Chapel of the Resurrection.

If you ever have a chance to swing through Valparaiso, Indiana, make a direct stop to see the inside of the Chapel of the Resurrection — this place is absolutely amazing whether you are a believer or an atheist.  Check this out — the Chapel includes an amazing stained glass wall behind the altar (called the Munderloh Windows, designed by Peter Dohmen Studios of St. Paul, MN) which gets a good portion of the daytime sun, giving the Chapel an unbelievably beautiful blue scene.  Some people call it “sermons and sermons of just color.”  From the photo below, I can see why!  Imagine standing in front of this goliath mass of colored translucent magictude:

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About the Chapel of the Resurrection:

Groundbreaking for the Chapel construction took place in 1956. The building was designed by the architectural firm Charles Stade and Associates of Park Ridge, Illinois, though certain elements and features (e.g., the stone baptistry, the stained glass windows, etc.) were designed by other artists. Peter Dohmen Studios of St. Paul, MN designed the 95ft high stained glass windows, as well as the marble interzia altar, and the mosaic at the entrance of the chapel.

The altar is 20 ft long, made of various types of Italian marble. Peter Dohmen designed the inlaid marble pedestals to depict, with symbols, the four evangelists. Matthew is represented by an angel, Mark by a lion, John by an eagle, and Luke by an ox.

Peter Dohmen learned his skills at the top art academies of Europe. He became a well-known artist in Germany during the 1930s, executing major art works, such as stained glass windows, frescos on major public buildings, mosaics, etc. During the early 1940s he was blackballed by the government because of his outspoken opposition of the Nazi party. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1951 and continued his artistic trade with great success. Amongst some of his major works are the stained glass windows in the library of Notre Dame University.

Total construction costs of the chapel were about $7.5 million, much of which came through individual donations.

The building was dedicated in 1959, part of Valparaiso University’s centennial celebration, and officially designated as the Chapel of the Resurrection at the 10th anniversary service in 1969.

The chapel itself is positioned completely east to west, so the building gets as much natural light as possible.  Morning services are incredible, with those Munderloh Windows telling their own stories of times past:

Valparaiso University's "Chapel of the Resurrection," facing east/west in Valparaiso, Indiana

Valparaiso University’s “Chapel of the Resurrection,” facing east/west in Valparaiso, Indiana

These Munderloh windows are quite incredible, I cannot get enough of them!  A world-renowned glass artists (Peter Dohmen) and his assistant Dieterich Spahn created the Munderloh Windows specifically for Valparaiso University back in the early 1960’s.  I highly recommend checking out Dieterich’s work, that man has the stained glass skills of none other.  About those skills:

1938-1961 Early life

Spahn was born in Cologne in 1938. With the outbreak of World War II his family moved to a farm in Sergen, near Cottbus. After the war they moved again to Düsseldorf where Spahn studied the arts and worked with the renowned Düsseldorf artist Günther Uecker. In 1958 he created his first experimental glass panels. Between 1958 and 1960 he studied at the Werkkunstschule where he was exposed to the traditions of the Bauhaus and Jan Thorn Prikker. The following year he traveled extensively throughout southern France and Spain to study light in architecture. During this period he produced a number of watercolors and oil paintings which are now in private collections throughout Germany.

1961 – Move to the United States

In 1961 Dieterich Spahn was invited by the German-born artist Peter Dohmen to work in his St. Paul studio. It was upon his arrival in America that he began intensive activities with stained glass, mosaic and murals for sacred arts applications. He assisted in the production of a number of noteworthy commissions, including the stained glass windows and mosaics for the university chapel at Valparaiso University in Indiana, which became the largest stained glass windows in the United States.

In 1965 he began independent work in graphic arts. Around this time, the death of his mother prompted him to return to Germany where he viewed many works by Georg Meistermann and Ludwig Schaffrath and reestablished contact with the Düsseldorf art scene. This renewed his interest in painting and over the next several years he produced a series of paintings. In 1969 he returned to Germany to study the works of Georg Meistermann in depth.

1971 – Dieterich Spahn & Associates

Upon returning, Spahn entered into partnership with the New York artist Mel Geary to purchase Peter Dohmen Studios. This partnership saw the production of a number of large commissions, until Geary returned to New York in 1971. In this same year Dieterich Spahn & Associates, Inc. was formed, devoted exclusively to stained glass and mosaics for the sacred arts. Over the next decade Spahn worked with George Winterowd and the nationally recognized church architect Ed Sovik to produce 75 commissions around the country totaling more than 400 stained glass windows.

In 1977 Spahn traveled again to Düsseldorf following the unexpected death of his sister to be with his gravely ill father, who died within days of his arrival. Upon his return to Minneapolis he began a series of oil paintings which moved away from religious themes.

1980 – Family

In 1980 he married Joanne Shafer. Around this time he also met Frank Kacmarcik, a monk at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, and nationally recognized liturgical and architectural consultant. Spahn served as a guest lecturer at St. John’s University about stained glass and sacred art in the contemporary church environment. He also became a member of the St. Paul Archdiocesan Worship Board for Arts and Environment, a position which he held until 1986. 1984 marked the birth of his first son, Kevin, followed by David in 1987 and Alan in 1989. During this time he created a series of paintings drawing inspiration from the childhood images created by his children.

In 1988 Spahn interrupted his painting for over two years to focus on several major projects in stained glass, including the library window for St. Thomas University.  During this period he also traveled to Düsseldorf to view the art of Joseph Beuys. Beuys’ work had a major, positive influence on Spahn’s perception and understanding of all art.

In 1991 Dieterich Spahn participated in the Wendekreis exhibition in Düsseldorf. This prompted a major change in his painting style upon his return. The next decade saw the production of a series of paintings which departed from traditional techniques of representation, as well as a number of large stained glass projects and commissions for liturgical design and consulting.

In 1999 Spahn again changed his painting style by reevaluating the role of the materials used and began a series which he continues to this day. This series of works reflects the changing role of art in the 21st century. In early 2004 he began a collaboration withWillet Hauser Architectural Glass, the largest stained glass studio in the United States, resulting in a large commission for the Chiara Center.

Also, regarding those windows…  those beautiful Munderloh Windows…  from Valpo’s Munderloh Windows page:

Behind the chancel, rising up 98 feet, the east end of the chapel are the beautiful Munderloh Windows, designed by the Peter Dohmen Studios of St. Paul, Minnesota, which capture the fresh morning sun. Often described as “sermons in color,” the stained glass artistry symbolizes the creative work of God the Father, the redemptive work of God the Son, and the sanctifying work of God the Holy Spirit. Illustrated in the window of the creation are the hands of God, a sun, Adam and Eve, plants and trees, and the serpent of temptation. The window of redemption highlights the life of Christ with symbols including a manger, a cross, drops of blood and angels. The window of sanctification is illustrated with ancient scrolls of the Bible, the dove of the Holy Spirit, an angel with a trumpet, and symbols of education such as a lamp, an owl and the torch from the University seal. The windows may be “read” in a clockwise path beginning in the upper right of each window.

Check these out, the photos are awesome (I guess if I do say so myself, since I took them back in 2003!)

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The nave of the chapel is amazing in its own right, with a clerestory-style set of windows on the north and south sides of the chapel.  Instead of horizontal clerestory, the ports are vertical, which creates some incredible shadow gobos all over everything!

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If you prefer to see all of these photos in a blackbox gallery, click on one of the thumbnails below to check them out!

All photos © Jim Hutchison, 2003

Misnomer Majestica: Fire Rainbows

So-called Fire Rainbows actually have nothing to do with fire or rainbows, however they are absolutely awesome! The correct nomenclature for this optical phenomenon is circumhorizontal arc (circumhorizon arc and lower symmetric 46° plate arc are also accepted). A multi-colored halo (spanning from the red wavelengths at the top to the indigo like a rainbow) that runs parallel to the horizon occurs when the sun’s height in the sky is more than 58° above the horizon and its light passes through a cirrus cloud or haze consisting of ice crystals. These ice crystals must be hexagonal and plate-shaped, facing parallel to the ground. When light enters the top of the ice crystal through its vertical side face, and exits bending through the lower horizontal face, it separates like a prism.

While the circumhorizontal arcs are indeed arcs, they frequently only appear in small sections of wispy cirrus clouds where the ice crystals are properly aligned, which leads to the misnomer “fire rainbow”. Here’s a small gallery of this spectacular optical phenomenon:

Midnight Sun

Our sun is absolutely astounding, and that’s no news, especially for JOL readers. However, the grand winner of a National Geographic exploration trip through X Prize, Joe Capra, entered with a stunning video about our home star’s polar seasonal effects so delightfully, I had to share.

In areas north of the arctic circle or south of the antarctic circle, in summer months the sun can be visible for up to twenty-four hours of the day, sinking but never dropping below the horizon line. This is similar to the effect of “white nights” where latitudes as low as sixty degrees experience midnight twilight, though in white nights the sun does go below the horizon line. In his film’s narration, Mr. Capra speaks about how because of the midnight sun effect, he had almost six hours between sunset and sunrise of low-level light to shoot.

Check out Mr. Capra’s video, “Land of the Midnight Sun” (RSS readers, please click through!):

A beautiful video on the opposite effect, polar night, Jim shared here.

Andika Pradana’s Skansen Visit Video – Blast from My Swedish Past!

Ah, Andika!  Your video really made me miss you guys, all of you!  Please share a hug from me to everybody that was there, because this video warmed up my heart for the whole day.  Thanks, brother!

So, JimOnLight.com Community, this video below was taken by Andika Pradana (an amazing photographer/videographer who has lots of imagery on Flickr, Facebook, and Vimeo) when I was in Stockholm at KTH in the fall.  Andika is in a group of photographers that I consider a Master of Captured Lumens – the man can capture light among the best.

Skansen is “the first open air museum and zoo in Sweden and is located on the island Djurgården in Stockholm, Sweden. It was founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius (1833-1901) to show the way of life in the different parts of Sweden before the industrial era.”  It’s a pretty cool place – there were some amazing views of the harbor, Stockholm, and the architecture around the city from that island.  I have tons of pictures from my travels to that place, I just have to get unbusy for a weekend to sort them!

My KTH class was there observing some of the period structures and how people in those era (1750’s-1850’s) dealt with daylight and available light.  We did a lot of sketching in a particular structure assigned by group, and then compared our work to create a 3D representation of the “feeling” of the light in the room.  I’ll post pictures of that too, it was quite fun – myself, lovely Valeria Mirarchi, and everybody’s pal, Jonas Godehart.  You two are going to be working lighting designers soon, I am so proud of you!

Okay, enough rambling.  Check out Andika’s video!  He did a great job of capturing the entire project from start to finish:

Skansen (Daylighting Observation) from Andika Pradana on Vimeo.

The Kruithof Curve – Color Temperature VS Illuminance

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Have you ever heard of the Kruithof Curve?

Back in the early 1940’s when fluorescent sources were beginning to affect the way we thought about light and color rendering, a scientist that worked for Philips named Arie Andries Kruithof performed some informal tests on how the human eye relates the amount of light in a given time of day to the color temperature of the light source.  Typically, human beings like higher color temperature light sources during the daytime hours, and lower color temperature sources once the sun goes down.  People in warmer climates tend to favor cooler color temperature sources, and people in colder climates like warmer light.  It seems pretty intuitive, yes?

Is this an official guaranteed works-for-every-human-on-earth standard?  Of course not.  Everyone is different.  Eastern societies have different preferences than Western societies.  But – and this is a general but – there is a correlation between the amount of light from a light source (lux) and the color temperature of the light source (degrees Kelvin) that seems to be fairly common among us all in most situations.  This is the research that culminated in A. A. Kruithof’s color temperature VS illuminance curve, as seen above.  Kruithof was working on visually pleasing light sources, and was interested in how adjusting the amount of light altered the amount of illumination needed to maintain a pleasing sense to the human eye.

The rods and cones in the human eye work together, and once the amount of illumination reaches a certain low or high point, the rods (intensity sensors) lead the visual information to the brain.  At night, when dusk conditions occur, you might notice that most of the colors in your view tend to be monochromatic, usually blue – this has to do with the low level of illumination, and a phenomenon referred to as the Purkinje Effect.  The Purkinje Effect tries to explain why our brain switches to scotopic vision at dusk when illumination levels are very low, and color rendering is poor – as the brightness of the day decreases, the vibrancy of reds goes away a lot faster than the vibrancy of blues in our vision.

We might have some almost built-in tendencies towards color temperature and light levels – perhaps somehow tied to the cycles of the sun and our circadian cycles.  We might have a tendency to associate warm colors with fire light at night, and we might associate higher color temperatures with the mid-day illumination levels from the sun.  Who really knows.  Kruithof gave it a try, and the curve is what he determined.

The two sources in the graph are the color temperature of Western/Northern Europe at mid-day (D65), and a 2700 Kelvin MR-16 tungsten-halogen source, for reference.

Thanks, ArchLighting and SoLux!

Lee Introduces New Sodium Effect Filters

Oh holy cow – my man iSquint posted an article about Lee’s new range of Sodium Effect filters that were released recently.  This line of filters is excellent – if you ask “why on EARTH would I want a set of 3200 degree filters?” then you’ve never had to deal with daylight before.  Way to go, Lee, and iSquint, you’re awesome!

Lee has also developed a  new falight conversion gel that coverts daylight (5600k) to Tungsten (3200k) with a red bias.  The new gel colors is 604 Full CT Eight Five.

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Sunlight, and Why It Is Good

Daylighting is an art of architectural lighting in which efforts are made to design the largest light source in our collective reality (the sun, obviously) as an effective source of light into a building.  Is that an exact definition?  No.  Does it seems like a common sense practice?  Of course!  People have been doing it for about, well, since the advent of people.  “How do I get some light into this ol’ shack made of sticks and leaves and still stay dry when it rains?”  It’s a common issue throughout history – clerestory windows, light collectors, reflecting panels, diffusion lenses, sawtooth roofs, skylights – all devices and concepts developed to use sun for interior lighting.

Sunlight is a light source that, if you think about it for a moment, is good on many, many levels.  That feels like a very obvious thing to say, but it’s true!  Sunlight makes the plants grow, sunlight is everywhere for a decent portion of the day, sunlight feeds us Vitamin D – and most importantly, it’s free and available!

My wife and I lived in Dallas a few years ago, and in our kitchen we had a SolaTube – a sunlight pipe that fed directly into the center of the kitchen.  It was situated on the rear of the house, and it got sun for about 12-15 hours every day.  Even on rainy, overcast days the sunlight pipe provided sunlight.  We always hung out in the kitchen – the light was nice, it was healthy.  It had such high color rendering and provided detail.  Food was beautiful!

Adding a SolaTube to a room doesn’t constitute Daylighting, and I certainly would not and do not assume so – I have a high level of respect for Daylighting designers, as they can really change our environments.  But the idea of pumping in some sunlight via simple technology is a smart idea – an efficient idea.  I was doing some research on the topic of Daylighting for a post or two, and in addition to SolaTubes and other sunlight pipe systems, I found some other interesting ways to use sunlight for interior lighting.

The fiber optic approach:

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A Swedish company called Parans developed a fiber optic method of piping the sunlight collected on top of the roof of wherever the system is installed – hospitals, schools, museums, laboratories, and anywhere that you need light.  The system uses a series of fiber optic wires to run sunlight throughout whatever space in which it’s installed.  Even if you weren’t using the sun as the main lighting source in a fiber optic system, you could put the source in a place that would give you easy and quick access in the event that you have to change a lamp in the system.

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Another company that is using fiber optics to send sunlight all over the interior of a building is Sunlight Direct.  Sunlight Direct uses a Hybrid Solar Lighting system to collect sunlight as a lighting source – a device is mounted on the roof that consists of a parabolic mirror that focuses as much sunlight as possible into a photovoltaic cell.  The Sunlight Direct system maintains lighting levels inside your house as the light level changes during the day.

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Another company, Neues Licht, also produced a fiber optic system that has a beautiful form as well as an efficient function – it’s called the UFO Chandelier:

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Neues Licht’s system is not solar powered, it is completely artificial.  However, the system is designed to tuck away the light source – to hide it in a closet, or an attic, or wherever else you might think to stash it so you can get to it in a hurry.  Can you imagine, however, if Neues Licht did make it solar, or provided a solar option?  Below is a cool photograph of the UFO Chandelier underwater in an aquarium – no electricity flowing through the lines, only light – so you can put it wherever you want!

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I think that’s about enough rambling on the goodness of solar power for now.

Thanks, Inhabitat, Parans, Sunlight Direct, Moco Loco, and Neues Licht!

Nathalie Criniere and The Louvre Abu Dhabi

What a beautiful concept!

The French firm Nathalie Crinière has been chosen to design the Louvre Abu Dhabi – one of five major institutions being formatted for Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island Cultural DIstrict.  Pritzer Prize winning architect Jean Nouvel’s existing work will be combined with the new works from Nathalie Crinière.

From Design Boom‘s website:

nouvel’s fantasy like concept consists of a web dome ceiling and large water pools complementing
the white walls and open spaces. the 26,000 sq m nouvel building will join the likes of the guggenheim abu dhabi museum, by frank gehry; a performing arts center, by zaha hadid; and a maritime museum, designed by tadao ando to create the saadiyat island cultural district, planned to be the world’s largest single concentration of premier cultural institutions. the louvre abu dhabi is due for completion in 2012-2013.

Look at these images.  This is some innovative and beautiful work.  It makes me want to be a daylight designer wholly.

Beautiful.