The Christian Science Center in Boston is a distinctive example of the idea of architecture and light executed together as a single element.
The plaza’s expression of volume and space is a direct product of light connecting with the structure to create shadow, depth, and visual highlights. As a visitor moves through the space the forms are progressively revealed. The art of lighting and architecture collectively creates vivid, usable, and, perhaps most importantly, stimulating environments.
The reflecting pool is a dynamic example of how light can vary the features of a space. The pool has a strong presence in the plaza, both in daylight and in the evenings under electric light, which enables a third dimension of communication between the surrounding structures as they are reflected in the water. To the visitor, this is an intriguing expression, produced simply by the reflection of light – and changing by the hour and every day, in contrast to the rigidity of the built form itself.
The electric lighting of the arcade clarifies wayfinding and highlights the architectural content and intent of use. The light fixtures themselves serve to scale down the oversized structure to a proportion corresponding to human height; the datum line of the fixtures is established just above head height, in order to create a spatial relationship to the passerby that is comfortable and useful. The lighting also announces the proposed path down the colonnade and accentuates the orderly rhythm of the pilasters.
Lighting is sometimes perceived as something that happens after the architecture is built, but to appreciate the mutually interdependent, enigmatic relationship between the two is to connect form and light in a way that describes and defines space.
Photo Credit: Amber Hepner / Lam Partners Inc