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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

A Downtown View of Oklahoma City, Lit for the Holidays

Living in a condo tower downtown has its privvies, I guess.   I’m not really much of a downtown dweller, at least lately, but I seem to leave home and return home these days when the sun is still a snooze slap away from waking up.

I certainly take a lot of pictures of the downtown nightscape – my apartment is right next to the Oklahoma City Murrah Building Memorial, and it faces the downtown skyline.  Parts of Oklahoma City are bustling with holiday-themed lighting, and I’m planning a series of photos of the city at night.

Here’s the first installment of architectural lighting from Oklahoma City, OK – this set from the 13th floor of my tower – for reference, here’s the city skyline in August:

…and here’s a detail of the Chase Bank building (and I don’t know the tower to the right yet):

Wider city shot – It’s true – apparently crosses cover the idea of “Holiday” in general here in Oklahoma…

Here’s looking the other way at Oklahoma City, looking southwest:

More shots – click on any one in this gallery, and a Gallery View will open up for your enjoyment!

.PSLAB Beirut and MYBAR

Wow, good morning world.  I have to apologize for the last week of relative dead space – I put in about 90 hours last week and toured my design of The Light in the Piazza to a theatre in Arkansas.  It’s been a crazy week!

But to welcome the little bit of sanity I am holding onto right now, I want to post about a new project that PSLAB in Beirut has done.  I got this from my pal Ramsey at the .PSLAB Beirut offices – I have to say that any time I get info from .PSLAB, I have been so impressed.  I get a lot of images from lighting firms all over the world, and .PSLAB produces some of my favorite works.  Their designs are just so worldly and original.

Check out the design for MYBAR, a new bar/restaurant in Beirut.  Some info from .PSLAB:

A bar/restaurant whose space is functionally divided into 3 areas; an entrance corridor, a drinking area, and a dining area. The entrance corridor leads to the drinking area which is separated from the dining area by an irregular shaped staircase extending from a rugged wall starting at the end of the corridor.

We used a line of uplights to light the entrance pathway and connect it to the drinking area.
The uplights continue parallel to the rugged wall and stairs producing a play of shadows created by the different layers in the wall.
The drinking area features floor to ceiling poles carrying small cups’ stands.
To accentuate the curvature of these poles, we set downlights at the top end of each creating a vertical beam of light detached from the rod.

The dining area is characterized by visible white ducts covering the ceiling and maintained over a two-level bar connecting the dining area to the drinking area. The furniture layout in this area follows the layout of those ducts.
We chose to use the visible ducts in order to create a lighting system unifying the two main sections of the space (drinking/dining). Hence, we developed lighting fixtures in white finish, fixed to the ceiling on the sides of the ducts. To have a rectangular horizontal beam of light centered over the tables, a gap created by the circular opening of the duct defines the shapes of the objects.
Continuing over the bar, the light objects are set on one side of the duct and in opposite directions in order to light the path behind the bar. Similarly for the sushi bar in the other end of the space.

Click on each of the images, they open into a gallery!

Beautiful.

PSLAB Beirut Lights Al Dente, Now It’s Well Done

Ha haaa, pardon the wordplay there, sometimes I just cannot help myself.  I just got word from my pal Ramsey at .PSLAB Beirut that the firm has just completed another concept project!  PSLAB is one of my top five favorite lighting design firms on the planet – they’re like my Chicago Blackhawks of the architectural lighting design world.

Press release below, then awesome imagery.  Ramsey, tell everybody I said excellent work!

Al Dente Restaurant, Beirut- Lebanon

.PSLAB BEIRUT was asked to develop a lighting concept for al dente restaurant in beirut–lebanon.
The high ceiling restaurant is divided into 3 areas: the main central area containing the entrance and the main hall, a secondary hall and a bar area.
We developed twig-like metallic fixtures to be mounted in clusters at the center axis connecting the entrance to the main hall.
For the secondary hall and bar area, we developed superposed brass discs carrying the light source and fixed to the ceiling by means of a metallic rod. The linear layout of the fixtures and the continuity of the line of light defines the depth of the spaces.

Check ‘em out:

Thanks, Ramsey!

WORKS.PSLAB and the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel

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I just got an email from Ramsay at PSLAB in Beiruit just a little bit ago – PSLAB’s work continues to impress me.  Check out this press release and images below:

WORKS.PSLAB was approached by Paris-based architect India Mahdavi in order to develop a lighting concept for a typical room setting and lobby areas for the renovated Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel, Monte-Carlo S.B.M.

The main lobby area is characterized by a very high ceiling topped with a dome-like recess, as if bringing together a cycloidal transition of the space walls.  Ceiling mounted fixtures are conceived to light the space and accentuate the ceiling pit.  Having different axes heights, the fixtures are set to cluster around the tallest-axis fitting moving to the shortest-axis fitting in a radial manner, creating an inverted cone-shaped light source.  The fixtures are made from metal sheets laser-cut into leaf-like shapes with a ring for fixation. The hammering technique used to achieve the curvature of the sheets gives each its unique texture. The overlapping of multiple leaves gives a rotational impression resulting in a diffused light effect. A system of superimposed short discs combines the sheets allowing them to rotate around its axis in two directions, hence allowing multiple settings.  The lamp is enclosed inside the fixation system and the glossy finish of the leaves reflects the light coming out from differently positioned slits on the discs.  These fittings are then adapted to be wall mounted in single or double units to light the restaurant and staircases.

The typical room features a short entrance corridor leading to a sleeping area with a curved corner containing the sitting area. The length of the corridor is highlighted by inserting narrow recessed down lights in the ceiling along its path. The corner space, not visible from the entrance door, is emphasized by tailor-made white on white metal cylinders developed for installation in groups of two of different size. Each houses an off-centered fluorescent light source that is sunken and concealed within the body in order to provide a glare-free ambient light. A third element is set in the corridor as a hint for the lighting objects inside.

The layout of the three objects is then reworked to conform with the settings of the different room types.

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The Ingravid Festival and Telenoika’s Excellent Video Mapping

The Ingravid Festival in Spain saw a ridiculously interesting video mapping project this year – a group of artists called the Telenoika Cultural Association created this amazing composition using openFrameworks, a C++ toolkit that pretty much rules.

Just an FYI – the video is pretty long (about 20 minutes), but I promise it will be one of the better 20 minute sessions of your day.

Thanks Make, and thanks to Ryan Wilkinson for the heads up on this!

Telenoika Audiovisual Mapping @ Ingravid Festival, Figueres 9/2009 [FULL] from Telenoika on Vimeo.

Kind-of Product Review: SunLite’s “The Stick” Lighting Control

Earlier this month I wrote an article about SunLite’s lighting control product, “The Stick.”  It’s a two-universe DMX control programmable interface for architectural lighting.  I requested a product sample a few weeks ago, and I got the sample just a few days ago.

My first impressions are pretty decent – the sample device isn’t really a device at all, it’s a non-functioning model.  However, I knew that this would be the case, so no big deal.  The unit itself is a little larger than a two-gang switchplate, and considerably larger than a single switchplate.  The Stick does maintain a small profile, and has a decent design line.

The interface itself is hard to comment on because this is a non-functioning demo – but from the look of the demo unit, I wonder about the durability of The Stick with regard to everyday wear and tear.  It’s glossy, so my first impression of The Stick was my fingerprints all over the faceplate.  It’s a flush, touch-sensitive interface with attention paid to design and aesthetic – and it is certainly pleasing to have sitting on a wall.  It’s not terribly flashy or over-designed in my opinion, and the interface panel seems to take a bit of wear and tear well.

On the bottom of the unit is the data connections – mini USB, a reset button, LEDs, a mini-SD card slot, and a power switch.  The rear of The Stick has the 9-pin terminal strip, and the instructions claim that the device cna fit any electrical box.  A larger box gives you the ability to store the power supply inside of the wall.

As of this time The Stick doesn’t have any ethernet abilities, but this is supposedly coming in Fall of 2009.  You can use RS232 to trigger the device, and The Stick is programmable via the touchpad or by software interface.

Check out some images – pardon the amount, there are a bunch.

The Stick promo material and demo unit:

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The Stick, rear image and terminal strip connector:

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Detail of the rear and pinout:

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The Stick compared to a 2-switch plate:

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The Stick compared to a 1-switch plate:

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Bottom of the unit, data connections and LED placement:

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The Stick installation pages:

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Make sure to check out SunLite’s The Stick product page.  I am certainly still interested in seeing The Stick in action!

Apparati Effimeri and the Tetragram For Enlargement

Visual artists Apparati Effimeri just completed and showed a pixel mapping work called Tetragram for Enlargement all over the side of a castle-like building in Italy somewhere.  It’s not to say that the folk at Apparati Effimeri are clandestine or secretive, but I am having a hard time finding much detail about them and the project.

As far as I know, they’re from Bologna, they mapped out the surface of this castle building, and projected some beautiful work all over the side of it.  Check out this video:

APPARATI EFFIMERI Tetragram for Enlargment from Apparati Effimeri on Vimeo.

I want to know what the projector sources were!

Check out the project page for Tetragram for Enlargement – some great stills there, and thanks Create Digital Motion!

SunLite’s STICK – Touch Lighting Control

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Lighting controller company SunLite has released a touch lighting controller interface called STICK – the Sunlite Touch-sensitive Intelligent Control Keypad.  It’s a slick little unit – two universes of DMX control, a remote, programmable interface, and a bunch of goods that make the STICK an interesting choice when designing an architectural lighting interface into a room.

SunLite just released a huge color brochure about the STICK – get it here.  (it’s a PDF link)  They’re also offering a download for a video on the STICK interface – it’s quite a production, too!  Check it out:

Some shots from the STICK PDF (which is a beautiful piece of graphic design, by the way):

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Man, that thing is beautiful!

Ars Electronica in Austria – An LED Marvel Performance

From the Vimeo site on the project:

lights on is an audio visual performance created for the Ars Electronica museum in Linz, Austria, which has a facade that contains 1085 LED controllable windows. The windows’ colors are changed in realtime with music that’s broadcasted on speakers surrounding the building.

visuals coded in openframeworks by zachary lieberman, joel gethin lewis and damian stewart (yesyesno). music by daito manabe, with support from Taeji Sawai and Kyoko Koyama. we made this in three days :)

the performance is approximately 10 minutes long. this is an edit. also, we’ve recorded the output from the software (audio / OSC) and this performance can be replayed in the future for events, etc.

special thanks to the awesome ars electronica / futurelab crew, (maria, wolfgang, andreas, ramsay, horst, gerfried, maff, christopher and everyone else), also iris mayer, carolina vallejo, and rhizomatiks for helping make this possible. also a huge thanks to the excellent technicians Multivision who installed this system: is.gd/BnCy. some info about the install here: is.gd/BkP2

openframeworks.cc / daito.ws / frey.co.nz / joelgethinlewis.com / aec.at

Check out this video – Oh, I want to do this with some good folks like these.  Dreams of living architecture always fill my brain…


Thanks, VJ.TV!