In our latest Lam Labs initiative, Lam’s Advanced Computing Team has implemented a high-density GPU array to run NVIDIA’s Iray software, allowing designers to tap into incredible rendering capabilities for almost-real-time realistic and accurate visualization of designs, using real fixture photometrics. The team recently spent time discussing capabilities with NVIDIA’s Iray team, who noted that Lam’s capabilities are “a truly impressive and innovative use of their software for architectural visualization”.
Below are a selection of visualizations the team has produced for various projects, ranging from design studies employing false color illuminance distributions to “light path expressions”, allowing for post-process dimming or color-changing using Adobe After Effects.
The new behemoth GPU array, located in Lam Partners’ secret lair.
Short movies show the feeling of spaces, or the effects of dynamic media displays:
Using ‘lightpath expressions’ designers can model the effects of dynamic lighting arrays:
Daylighting visualizations can all-but-replace physical model studies on the heliodon
Slide the slider to change the time of day
Still images with advanced materials and photometric lighting can quickly show designers how spaces will feel and be illuminated – switching to false color views helps verify appropriate light levels, or cutting sections through spaces to peer inside.
On November 17, 2015, Glenn Heinmiller presented at the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy Solid-State Lighting Technology Development Workshop in Portland, Oregon. This presentation was part of a session titled "Remaining Challenges: LED Street Lighting", and draws from lessons learned during the LED streetlight conversion underway in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Glenn provides an informed view of the benefits and challenges involved with implementing this emerging technology.
Designers Maggie Golden and Jack Risser recently flew across the pond to represent Lam Partners at this year’s DIVA Day conference hosted at the Architectural Association in London. Attending both the conference and training sessions provided an insightful look into the professional world of commercial daylighting. The Solemma team, including former Lam employee Kera Lagios, presented the new version of DIVA 4.0, with some very cool new grasshopper tools, and integration with the energy modeling program ArchSim. Presentations from various international teams shared their work and discussed the past, present, and future of daylighting design.
Some Highlights of the conference:
Anne Iversen at Henning Larsen presented “Optimizing a Façade for an Arid Climate.” Although the design approach and style were interesting, the biggest takeaway was the importance of working through iterations. Optimization processes allow you to learn from each iteration, and ultimately evoke the best optimization from all aspects of design. The process also helps designers develop daylight intuition for future projects.
Another interesting presentation came from Reinier Zeldenrust of Atelier Ten, titled “Twenty-Five Years of Atelier Ten.” While the presentation read like a history of the company – it also portrayed the history and potential futures of daylighting design. Zeldenrust artfully illustrated how far the design community has come in daylighting and integrated design. Though softwares like DIVA, Ladybug, Honeybee, and many more, the act of daylighting design gets easier each year; however the basics are as important as ever. The future holds integration with of energy design, and visual representations such as virtual reality.
We’re excited to take full advantage of the new DIVA build at Lam Partners, and through Lam Labs continue to push the limits on daylighting design processes with emphasis on integration of thermal comfort and energy considerations, with quality of light and visual comfort. We continue to research cutting edge visualizations that not only allow architecture firms to visualize daylighting designs but also allow for custom components to create real-time collaboration with architecture firms through the design.
Jack Risser has developed a slick visualizer to show off various visualization strategies Lam Daylighting designers create, replacing the decades-old techniques of physical model heliodon studies. Design studies were performed by Dan Weissman and Maggie Golden.
Shadow Study in Rhino for an Athletic Center shown in the latest version of the Processing Script with consolidated single viewer
A Rare Books Library on the Summer Solstice with an overlaid slider
A Field House on the Summer Solstice showing 4 design options
An Art Museum in So-Cal on the Winter Solstice, including Electric Light
Designer Jack Risser and Dan Weissman, Director of Lam Labs, have developed a new workflow for rendering low- and medium-resolution media displays in visualizations. The process includes a multi-application workflow, including Rhinoceros 3D with Grasshopper and the Firefly plugin, and 3Ds Max for rendering. Now that the team has successfully rendered both still and animated images, the next step is validation of the output, compared with reality. To do this, the team is currently finishing an installation of Color Kinetics iColor Flex Gent 2 nodes in Lam Partners’ office, which will provide a control case to verify lumen output, luminous intensity, and material transmissions. Stay tuned for more about this exciting project.
Translucent panel 8″ from nodes
William Ming Cheong Lam, better known as Bill Lam, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1924. Bill entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology just before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and his studies were interrupted by service in the USAAF, where he served as a B-25 bomber pilot with the 13th Air Force in the Southwest Paciﬁc campaign. After returning to MIT, Bill graduated with a degree in Architecture in 1949.
After finishing his studies at MIT (inspired by the example of visiting professors Alvar Aalto and Charles Eames), Bill founded Lam Workshop to explore his ideas for the production of quality and economical electric lamps and furniture designs. Almost from the beginning, Lam Workshop products were sold nearly everywhere that carried contemporary furniture. In all of his designs, function and the manufacturing process drove form. Light diffusers for table lamps made from ﬁberglass reinforced plastic were among the ﬁrst consumer products, shown alongside Eames chairs in advertising. Other products, such as globe diffusers for pendant light fixtures, pioneered the use of vacuum formed thermoplastics. With manufacturing capacity outstripping the design store market, some Lam Workshop products were marketed by Lightolier.
Lam Lighting Systems Inc 1951
Bill saw a critical need in the market for commercial-grade lighting products that would address the challenges of modern architectural design. The business name was changed to Lam Lighting Systems Inc (also known as Lam Inc), and the headquarters and production facility was moved to Wakefield, MA. With a focus on integrated lighting solutions to serve the architectural community, Lam Lighting produced a line of ‘classic’ modern fixtures that became essential architectural ‘tools’ for decades. Such fixtures included a series of extruded aluminum indirect fluorescents, a line of wall-mounted valence fixtures with tunable direct and indirect components, and the original “hockey puck” metal halide uplight, which was widely used in schools, libraries, universities, and recreational facilities.
William Lam Associates 1961
DC Metro, 1967
After several years as a successful fixture manufacturer, Bill retired from Lam Lighting Systems Inc and returned to his passion for architectural design. He founded William Lam Associates in 1961, a lighting design consulting firm in Cambridge, MA, with a focus on the integration of lighting with architecture and urban design. Bill worked with many architects across the US and throughout the world, developing innovative lighting solutions and integrated systems approaches for complex building designs. Bill taught lighting design at Harvard, authored two books on lighting design, and was a great mentor and inspiration for several generations of architects and lighting designers.
Lam Partners Inc 1990
Model Testing: Bilbao Guggenheim, 1995
With extensive experience at William Lam Associates as project managers, Robert Osten and Paul Zaferiou became partners with Bill in 1990. The name of the firm was changed to Lam Partners Inc to acknowledge this transition, and the office was moved to its current location in a renovated warehouse space, north of Harvard Square, Cambridge. Bill retired from Lam Partners Inc in 1995, maintaining a small consulting business in Cambridge to pursue projects of special interest.
From 1995 to the present day, the firm has experienced considerable growth, working on increasingly complex projects and expanding our design and technical capabilities, In 2006, Lam Partners renovated its office, and the firm’s logo and brand was updated to its current format in 2007. Keith Yancey was promoted to Principal in 2005, followed by Glenn Heinmiller in 2008.
Bill Lam passed away in 2012. Fittingly, a memorial service was held at Eric Saarinen’s MIT Chapel, one of Bill’s favorite spaces in Cambridge. The service was attended by family, colleagues, and friends from around the world. Bill’s legacy lives on in all of those who worked with him, and who were inspired by his teaching and dedication to the profession of lighting. For more about Bill, please refer to his obituaries in the Boston Globe and in Architectural Lighting.
Lam Holiday party, 2012.
Lam Labs was founded in 2014 as a division of Lam Partners, to pursue research opportunities and explore innovative lighting ideas beyond the bounds of conventional project structures. The firm is dedicated to carrying forward our rich history of design excellence, with a very talented and energetic staff of designers, using the latest design tools and lighting technology in new and exciting ways. Lam Partners is committed to the principles of integrated design, teaching, promoting energy efficiency and sustainability, and building rewarding, collaborative and lasting relationships within the design community.
A New Public Face
With this new website, Lam Partners seeks to show off our creativity, our collaborative spirit, our irreverent and goofy sides as well as our technical capabilities. Get to know the team, peruse our spheres of expertise, check out our completed projects, find useful info in our tools section, and follow our blog. We’re very excited about it and welcome your feedback in the comments section below!
Architects were the first lighting designers, and the first daylighting experts. The sun was once the only thing we had to illuminate the interiors of our architecture. We understood its character, its movement, its color and changeability. Until about seventy years ago or so, daylighting was still the primary source of energy used for illumination.
Sure, we had candles, gas lanterns, and finally electric incandescent sources, but it wasn’t until the confluence of air conditioning and the fluorescent tube that we stopped designing our architecture to receive air and light from the great outdoors. Technology has given us wonderful inventions that make our lives on earth easier, happier, more comfortable, and more productive – but for a price. The energy needed to power all of this technology is being depleted. We can heat, cool, and light our buildings in any climate, in any architectural style, but only as long as we have enough fuel.
Indigenous or vernacular architecture was born from solving programmatic needs, using whatever natural resources were immediately available. With the advent of air conditioning in early 1900 and the invention of the fluorescent tube in 1938, we could virtually turn our backs to the outside world and create environments inside our buildings to our liking. As a result, we saw our architecture dramatically change. Office blocks became very large and, consequently, the resulting interior spaces were further removed from the perimeters of buildings. Interior spaces were almost entirely illuminated by electric lighting. It was easier and more economical to use fluorescent lighting than to design a building with more perimeter space that got its light from the sun.
As the years rolled on, we started to realize that these environments were not as desirable as the ones created by nature. Studies started revealing that productivity was suffering, that students’ test scores were in decline, and that people’s health was being sacrificed – all based on a separation from the sun, which helped us to produce vitamin D, set our circadian rhythms, and provided balance to our physical and psychological well-being.
It’s not all a doom-and-gloom story however. Fluorescent lighting is still, by far, the most popular way of illuminating the interiors of our buildings, but with new technologies it is even more efficient than ever before. Furthermore, fluorescence plays well with daylighting. Instead of replacing it, fluorescent and daylight coexist in very efficient and comfortable ways through advanced control technologies and thoughtful design. Dimmable ballasts, photocells, vacancy sensors, individually addressable equipment, and proper design techniques all make it easy to save energy and create wonderful luminous interior environments.
In addition, technology gives us design tools and simulation programs that allow us to forecast energy savings and previsualize our designs in unprecedented ways.
But, in order to take full advantage of these available technologies, architects must reclaim daylighting in their design domain. Unfortunately, the history of architecture in the last century is tragically described as a continual delamination between art and science, because architects passed these technologies into the hands of specialist consultants.
Reyner Banham, in his book The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment writes: “… the idea that architecture belongs in one place and technology in another is comparatively new in history, and its effect on architecture, which should be the most complete of the arts of mankind, has been crippling… the art of architecture became increasingly divorced from the practice of making and operating buildings.”
Today the profession is filled with competent and useful consultants and specialists, but the architect must use them, just as technology itself, in a manner that supports the art, and the human being living within that art. We must learn from history, but also embrace technology in ways we’ve never done before, to create beautifully daylit architecture, completely integrated to produce a true balance between art and science.
Photo Credits: Prasad Kholkute (1), Lam Partners (2-4)
DALI is one of the latest buzz words in the lighting industry. Widely used in Europe, DALI is still in its infancy in the U.S., even though it was first introduced in the late ’90s. DALI stands for “digital addressable lighting interface”, a control protocol based on digital commands that are sent between ballasts and the control system. DALI has many benefits which make it a very attractive system for commercial lighting applications, however, there are a number of things to keep in mind when designing a DALI system.
How does DALI work? DALI is a standard digital communication protocol which allows DALI-compliant devices, regardless of manufacturer, to talk to one another. These devices include controllers, ballasts, switches and sensors. Since DALI is an open protocol rather than a proprietary system, there are a number of ballast manufacturers and control companies that offer DALI products.
A DALI system can include up to 64 individual DALI devices on a single loop, with each device having its own address. DALI ballasts can be individually configured, and that custom configuration resides in the electronics within the ballast itself. DALI ballasts are able to set light levels, fade time and fade rate, and individual address. These ballasts are able to be configured as part of multiple lighting scenes which can be selected by wallbox control devices or a central control system.
DALI ballasts feature two-way communication, which means that they receive digital signals from the control system telling them how to operate, while also allowing the ballast to provide feedback through the network, for instance, indicating if the ballast is on or off, how much energy it is using, and whether the lamp and ballast are functioning.
DALI systems have many attributes which make them worthy of consideration for commercial applications:
- With DALI, wiring is easier than in a traditional system and there is less of it. The electricians don’t have to care about how they circuit the fixtures. They just run power to fixtures the easiest way they can until they load up a circuit. Fixtures are controlled solely through the digital control wire, which can also be run arbitrarily to each device.
- The ballasts are individually addressable, allowing for control zones to be configured in the field – rather than on paper, prior to construction. Because control zones are not hard-wired, they can be easily reconfigured based on real usage. Programming zones and scenes is done through software, regardless of how the fixtures are circuited.
- DALI ballasts can be tied into Building Management Systems, which can monitor energy usage and identify lamp failures, making DALI an ideal system for clients interested in sustainability.
- DALI ballasts can dim to 1% for linear lamps and 3% for compact fluorescent lamps – this is of particular interest when considering daylight dimming along perimeter zones.
While there are quite a few positive features to a DALI system, there are a number of things to keep in mind when designing such a system:
- At the moment, there are a limited number of ballast types available. While the choices are vast in Europe, as of this writing, U.S. manufacturers only offer DALI ballasts for four-foot linear fluorescent lamps (T8, T5, and T5H0), two-foot T5 lamps, 18/26/32-watt quad- and triple-tube compact fluorescent lamps, and 40-watt biax lamps. There are no manufacturers in the U.S. currently offering a three-foot linear fluorescent DALI ballast. This proves problematic if designing continuous coves or slots, which can require three-foot units to make up a continuous lighted run.
- Something else to consider is the inability to locate a DALI-compliant ballast remotely. Lighting fixtures are becoming smaller and smaller due to the demands of both designers and architects, and in some cases the ballasts just don’t fit inside the fixture housings. For a DALI system, designers can select only fixtures with integral ballasts, because as of this writing, DALI ballasts cannot be located outside the fixture.
- Another factor is that many people are hesitant about implementing a DALI system because they just don’t know enough about how it works. There is the notion that a DALI system will cost more than a traditional system, however, one must consider the lower cost of installation and simplified wiring configurations.
While DALI might not be right for every application, and it does indeed have some drawbacks, the time might be right for more DALI installations in the U.S., and perhaps the U.S. ballast manufacturers will soon start developing and offering more options for DALI ballast/lamp combinations – especially when it comes to three-foot lamps!
Photo Credit: © Carlene Geraci/Lam Partners
Despite some of their current shortcomings, we are all enamored with the hope and promise of LEDs. When we begin a design session with a client these days, it’s a matter of minutes until someone asks “can we use LEDs for that?!” We respond with the usual overview that there are some very good LED products on the market now, but there are also a lot of poorly-made products, snake-oil sales claims, and companies without a proven track record. In essence, “proceed with caution” is our approach.
One of the things that has bothered me most about LED fixtures is their visual color temperature. The products that I have seen and tested give off a light that is too cool for my preference. But, the world is changing and perhaps my perspective is starting to change a bit too. The following is A Tale of Two Task Lights: a Recently Acquired Fixture and the Lessons Learned.
Good tales often begin with a historic perspective, and so shall this one. Throughout the ages, people have associated low-level lighting with the warmth of firelight or of a candle. I confess that I love the warmer color temperature of a halogen task light. My desk lamps and even the under-cabinet lighting in my kitchen have always been halogen.
The indirect fluorescent lighting that I also have in the kitchen provides a very energy-efficient and comfortable ambient light level in the evenings, but the color does not deliver the same warm glow as the halogen. When the under-cabinet halogen lights are dimmed, they get even warmer and more ‘buttery’. I have yet to achieve that same warm, low light level with LED, compact fluorescent, or linear fluorescent products.
From among the outpouring of new LED products, I purchased my first LED task light this year. I did this to begin to wean myself off of my halogen diet, or at least to try in good faith to live with this new technology. Perhaps it also relates to the overall picture of striving to live healthier and in a more sustainable way. I suppose a parallel could be made with eating healthier – using less butter and more olive oil, for example. Yes, I started to compost as well.
I put my 50-watt, 2850K halogen task light into storage, and began to use my sleek new 9-watt LED desk fixture. The color temperature is specified at 3000K. For the first month or two I had a knee-jerk negative reaction whenever I turned it on. Too cool – as in temperature, not hip factor. I missed that warm buttery glow. However, over the course of a few months, I am beginning to grow accustomed to its cooler cast. The fixture has excellent glare control and the output is comfortable. If the fixture produced glare, or was either too dim or too bright, those factors would have certainly biased me against the LED task light. But I couldn’t find fault with it in those areas.
It has been about six months and I am now acclimated to the light quality of my new task light. I enjoy using it and the color temperature has sort of grown on me. Does making healthy choices involve accommodation and adjusting our standards, or is it the retooling our thinking and attitudes, which open us up to new options?
I believe that, as LEDs become more widespread in offices and homes, retail, street lighting, parking garages, etc. in the next few years, their shortcomings – particularly in the area of color temperature and glare control – will cause a backlash among users. The marvels and mysteries of LEDs as the great hope for our future will be tarnished by products that don’t live up to their promises and our expectations. While I do believe that the industry will have to deal with these shortcomings, what I have learned is that people are surprisingly adaptable to new technologies.
The visual issues that manufacturer’s have been dealing with – glare, multiple shadowing, effective dimming, cooler color temperature, and that strong desire for warmer color temperatures when dimmed – will get worked out over time as we grow accustomed to a new light.
Photo Credits: Schani (1), Lam Partners (2, 3)