Many cities, such as Boston, have been aiming to meet aggressive energy saving goals. What is driving cities to work towards these goals and how can new lighting tools help achieve them?
SS: City leaders are certainly driven by their desire to lower operating costs by reducing their energy bills. However, many leaders are also focused on higher-level climate change issues, such as CO2 emissions from the energy sources upon which they rely. Furthermore, many cities like New York, are now focused on resiliency. For example Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced the release of “Building the Knowledge Base for Climate Resiliency: New York City Panel on Climate Change 2015 Report.” The more cities are impacted by global climate change, the more they want to be part of the solution to those broader challenges.
AW: Sometimes we think that it is just about cost cutting, but public lighting can save so much energy when you look at it on a global scale. It is also a question of sustainability and reducing emissions. LEDs and smart control systems contribute tremendously to this effort. You can modulate the amount of light you bring to a certain place, depending on the seasons, kind of uses, and traffic density. In that way, the city becomes more interesting. It is not static, and you can feel the change.
How can municipal leaders and creative practitioners, including lighting designers, collaborate more readily to work towards integrated approaches to placemaking?
One of the challenges is working together over longer periods of time. Creative consultants may be part of a project at its initiation, but the challenge is how they can stay involved after the fact. Working in public-private partnerships or creating collaborations with non-profit organizations can assist municipalities in managing evolving strategic goals or master plans. In many ways, master plans have needed more dynamic tools to keep pace with the rapid change in urban infrastructures. To stay relevant they must adapt to accommodate new technologies and requirements all the time. On the one hand, municipal leaders have to create vehicles that maintain a high level of reliability and safety in the public realm, and on the other hand, allow for new ideas to become a reality. In some cases, they’ve created new roles and positions, like the team that programs Millennium Park in Chicago, IL.
AW: I think a three-way dialogue is ideal. There have been many ideas about how to involve the public. There is definitely room to think about not just the lighting designers and municipal stakeholders, but also the end user.
Overall, what do you believe is the most important piece of information that a reader can take from “Light for Public Space?”
SS: I would like to inspire creative practitioners and municipal leaders to think about the key role light can play in shaping compelling public spaces. I hope they collaborate with interdisciplinary teams to consider all aspects of light, especially the interaction design involved when engaging citizens directly.
AW: We tried really hard to choose a rich selection of projects around the world that each do different things and cover the spectrum from ambient to dynamic. The one message we really wanted to share is that lighting can do so much, but the entire design profession has been rather shortsighted until now. Lighting isn’t just a supporting actor. We need to start thinking about lighting as the powerful tool that it really is. And that shouldn’t be hard, since it relates to us as people on such a basic level.
Read the Q&A for part one and part two of the “Light for Public Space” series.
Watch the corresponding webinar here.