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Oklahoma City National Memorial at Night – A Photo Tour

This has to be said – if you want to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the best time to get the best experience is after the Sun sets.

For almost 1.25 years now I have lived directly across the street from the Oklahoma City National Memorial – the site of the Murrah Building bombing by now dead bad guy Timothy McVeigh.  I have watched people go in and out of this site, at all times of day or night (I myself have been there at 3:45am and 1am, as I don’t sleep much), in all kinds of weather.  The memorial is incredible pretty much any time I set my eyes on it.

During the day, the sun plays on the shapes and structures made by the memorial chairs, and the trees take care of giving the entire site a nice textured light to soften the reality of why the site is there.  At night though, the Memorial grounds are transformed; there is no longer a need to see everything.  The soft light and the directional path on which your eye is taken leads to the most pertinent areas of the memorial, from the field of empty chairs at night, each with an illuminated lower section, to the Survivor Tree, where you are given yet another view of the field of chairs.  To me, I feel the most solemn when visiting the memorial at night.  Obviously though, I’m a lighting designer, and I could find the emotion in a stray beam of light that came from some intergalactic star burp.

Just as a quick spatial guide, as you are at the memorial, if you enter and are standing looking with the chairs on the left or right, you are looking down Fifth Street.  FIfth used to run continuously between Classen and I-235, but the Memorial now sits at the spot of the bombing.  The chairs you will see are located where the building used to sit, and the chairs represent people killed in the explosion.  To be quite honest, I don’t know if you’re supposed to go onto the grassy area where the chairs are, but I just had to be close enough to pay my respects to the victims.  I also went at night though, I didn’t want to cause a bother.

Here are the chairs and the grounds from the building directly across the street from where the Murrah Building once stood:

You’ll notice in the image above that there are two arches that stop Fifth Street – one that says 9:01, and the other that says 9:03.  These are the Gates of Time.  At the eastern most side of the Memorial is 9:01 – the minute before the bombing, where life as we knew it was one way.  The bombing occurred at 9:02am, which is represented by the large reflecting pool and I believe the Memorial itself.  9:03, at the western most end of the Memorial, is where we now know life to be – after the bombing, after the death, after the bomber’s death.

Here’s the same view from my apartment, but in the evening:

What a beautiful memorial – you must commend the designers of this memorial, Hans and Torrey Butzer and Sven Berg, for their wonderful use of the night and the light in their design.

Below is a Gallery View of the photos – if you click on any one thumbnail, it will open the series in Gallery format for your enjoyment!  I have given each titles and some descriptions to give you bearing as you navigate through the set.

Thank you so much to the Oklahoma City National Memorial website and Wikipedia.

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That’s A Light Shame: Oklahoma City’s United States District Court House Exterior Lighting FAIL

I’m starting a new segment here on JimOnLight.com called “That’s A Light Shame.”  What this segment will focus on is shameful lighting situations all over the world, from safety to aesthetic, from art fails to general all-around epic fails.

I have found something that needs some shame shame shame finger pointing, perhaps because of its grand significance in the economy right now, or perhaps just because I’m anal-retentive and it’s been like this for nearly a year, continually getting worse.  With the economy being how it is (as daintily as Christina Romer put it the other day on Real Time with Bill Maher, ‘we’re pretty darned f**ked) and the growing frustration of the American people with our governmental fails right now, you’d figure that something like the exterior lighting of a US District Court house would warrant even some symbolistic care, right?

Nope, fail.  Non lighting designers could probably give two shakes in the wind (?) about this subject, or the entire thing altogether.  But for those of us interested in urban panning and city image, this thing looks like a freshly swollen canker sore on the face of Oklahoma City.  See for yourself – here are some images of the US District Court house in Oklahoma City, right across the street from the site of one of the most horrific attacks in American history, the Murrah Building bombing.  Perhaps that’s yet another reason to change those lamps and perhaps replace some filters, being that the OKC Memorial is right across the street, and people visit it at all times of the day and night.  Check it out below.

Here’s the court house during the day, both from afar (my balcony) and a bit of a more zoomed-in shot:

Ha haa, look, it’s a toy court house!

Now here is the first bit of exterior lighting degradation, when apparently some color filters were removed from the fixtures in the little vertical coves on the center of the facade.  Notice the Court House over on the left of this city view shot:

Here is what the last several months have been like on the front of the building – some fixtures completely out, some without filters (which apparently are supposed to be that steel blue like in the others).  These pictures were taken when my bestie was in town back in early June, and the lamps had been out for months before that as well.

 

These last two shots are of the court house on the evening of August 10, 2011:

Call me anal (or don’t, as I really don’t appreciate it, funny enough), but this is an eyesore on Oklahoma City’s downtown image.  I spend a LOT of time looking at the image of downtown, listening to the sounds that the city makes when it wakes, lives, and sleeps.  Right now, downtown Oklahoma City is kind of a disaster with all of the Project 180 stuff that’s going on – perhaps this too will get fixed at some point in the future.  Hopefully someone who has some influence on this situation will read this post and take some action.  I think Oklahoma City is a pretty cool city, and having an attention to detail is something for which we should all strive, especially when so many other things are being done to “update” the image of the downtown area.

But hey – WHAT a great start to what I am SURE will become a pretty hilarious segment on JimOnLight.com!  If you have your own Light Shames, send me an email through the contact form, let’s get them published and corrected!  Together, we have a very loud and important voice.  Let’s do the world some Light Good!

The Importance of Light Sources in Architectural Lighting Design Choices

I have a very interesting view from my apartment.  As you can imagine, since I’m typically only home after the sun goes down to appreciate it, I spend a lot of time gazing at the city, Oklahoma City.  I have a great view of most of downtown from my 13th floor city view condo, and I have large windows that open to air, allowing me to get great unimpeded shots of the entire area.

I take a lot of pictures of downtown Oklahoma City – it is so interesting to me to watch the city go from sunset to artificial light, almost as if it has a beating heart that only comes alive at night.  To watch the buildings flicker alive with their exterior illumination is like watching a giant living, breathing, feeling being come into its own each day as the sun goes to bed.

There is one thing that of course I would notice over all other beauty in my downtown view – poorly maintained architectural lighting.  As such a fan of great design in lighting and architecture, when I see a building that generally has aesthetically pleasing features, and then I see those features slaughtered by poorly maintained exterior lighting.  It’s kinda like falling in love with someone and getting dumped on your tukus for no reason – a major disappointment.  That example might be a wee bit extreme, but I think I get the point across – bad architectural lighting makes a city look ugly.

I think this really comes down to light source choice when planning the exterior illumination design.  As designers, we are responsible (at least in MY head) for choosing lighting that is going to not only support the architecture, but to accentuate it as well.  This comes down to many things overall – and I think one of them is being well versed in the lamp life and longevity of both lamps and fixtures that we choose to add to buildings.  If you choose poorly in your exterior lighting fixture and lamp choices, then your design is going to become the victim of maintenance.

Case in point:  Oklahoma City’s Museum of Art – I have a clear view of the building from my apartment.  What really sucks is that I don’t have a picture of the building with all of the architectural lighting working.  I’ve lived in my apartment since mid-July 2010.  Check out the building illuminated at night:

I’ve been on top of that building – changing the lamps in the architectural lighting atop the museum is not difficult because you can literally walk around and access most of the bases.  However, there have to be several thousand lamps in that design (the lamps are a bit bigger than C-9’s), and changing them what seems to be at least bi-weekly seems to be the only way to have them all work.

Would you say that this lighting design is efficiently using maintenance’s time?

Here’s another look at the structure, this time less of them are burned out:

And another with more lamps out:

Another building in town that has interesting potential (and has a pretty good record for upkeeping the architectural lighting) is the OG&E building in downtown Oklahoma City.  The OG&E building has a large swath of red fixtures lining the top of the building itself – I don’t know if they’re neon or just fluorescent with a red diffuser, but it’s generally an interesting look:

Now here’s the OG&E building when some of its fixtures are out:

Just doesn’t quite look the same, huh.

When you make design choices, always try to take into consideration what your work will look like when it’s not maintained.  I think that the aspect of a poorly maintained lighting design isn’t always taken into consideration – which leads to bigger problems in the end.

Chew on THAT!