When it comes to thinking about lighting, two common misconceptions dominate library design. The first is that cutting energy consumption equals sustainability—it doesn’t. Then there’s the notion that everything in a library space should be equally lit, which in practice just means that lighting fails to draw attention to or emphasize any part of the space. Dashing these notions guided the lighting design during the renovation of Madison Public Library’s (MPL) Central Library, WI. The result is an architecturally integrated lighting system that helps to transform a decrepit 1965 building into a state-of-the-art facility, registered for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, with a highly flexible architectural interior and an operational lighting demand almost half of what is allowed by code.
The goal of the new Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library in Washington, DC, which opened in January 2011, was to give neighborhood residents a “grand, well-lit, inviting” place—a “fantastic library where people would want to spend time,” says Kim Fuller, District of Columbia Public Library’s (DCPL) project manager, who oversaw the library’s construction.