Lighting designers, at some point during a project, are going to interface with electrical engineers. Historically, this hasn’t always been an easy process for many reasons. Very often vagueness in scope and deliverables means frantic last-minute scrambles to fill in gaps in the lighting package by one or both disciplines. It also seems like the transfer of infomation back and forth between lighting designers and engineers suffers, particularly with regards to out-of-date architectural backgrounds. It’s not unusual for the engineer to receive them less than 2 weeks before final documents are due which is understandably a very uncomfortable situation.
Interestingly, I have noticed that our office’s foray into Revit has provided a strengthening aspect to our relationships with electrical engineers. In an effort to better understand their Revit workflow, I have interviewed several engineers in my network and it has been an eye-opening experience. Quickly I understood how much additional, and unnecessary, work they must do when presented with a rudimentary lighting model in Revit. Like architects, most engineering firms have large libraries of families, including lighting fixture families. The difference is that, typically, architects’ families are simpler with little embedded parameter info (no offense, they just don’t need it for their work). This type of family forces the engineer to map all the architect’s fixture families to their own families that have the correct parameter info. This mapping procedure is time-consuming and prone to problems during the copy/monitor process.
It became clear that if we can provide lighting models with fixture families that match the engineer’s family parameters, the entire mapping process can be eliminated. Furthermore, if we can include the electrical connector component, the workflow is improved even more.
While this may sound like more work for the lighting designer, it’s actually the same amount of information we’re expected to be providing in our fixture schedules, just in a different format. Taking the time to match and fill out the lighting fixture family parameters gives us more control over our specs and sets us up nicely for future Revit-based fixture schedules.
Additionally, the improved relationship with the electrical engineers can result in their recommending us for future work because they can depend on a smoother transfer of information. This can also build trust and encourage more collaboration within the project team. My experience is that many electrical engineers welcome the opportunity to pass off work to lighting designers, therefore lighting designers that are willing to match their workflow would be more valuable.
Image Credits: Justin Brown/Lam Partners