By Russell Neal
In today’s marketplace, general contractors, electricians and property managers are routinely engaged in competitive bidding on commercial construction and architectural lighting projects. Working with a commercial lighting distributor who specializes in architectural lighting and who represents multiple manufacturers, gives the commercial designer more freedom to bid specific items without fear of limited options, restriction to only one or two manufacturers, or equipment that fails to meet all necessary safety and light pollution regulatory codes.
Architecture lighting specialists will help you carefully balance the major considerations of safety, security, aesthetics, and regulatory code compliance by helping you precisely match fixtures to exact client specifications, and by accessorizing your system to remain as maintenance free and energy efficient as possible. Extensive planning and consultation with a specialist can be obtained at a small, reasonable fee if your team requires assistance with advance planning or ongoing consultation in developing the specifics of your proposal.
Architectural Area Lighting
Architectural area lights are heavily regulated due to their high lumens output and must illuminate only the intended area(s) without generating light pollution that will create a hazard or a nuisance to a nearby business or residence. It is generally advisable that you plan a proposed architectural area lighting system with specific guidance in the following general areas:
1. Parking lot lighting must meet local foot-candle minimums, minimize glare for motorists, and avoid shining lights into adjacent facilities. Working with a source that can accommodate the Spartan preferences of strictly industrial sites and the more decorative needs of municipalities, corporate headquarters, and hospitality clients can go a long way toward impressive line items that can tip a bidding war in your favor.
2. Parking garage lights must be configured in such a way as to balance vertical foot-candle intensity with horizontal foot candle intensity. This often requires working with a specialist who can input the dimensions of your garage into special software to help you determine which lamps, wattage outputs, and light fixture locations are required to achieve optimal, safe lighting levels in your garage.
3. Outdoor building lights must accent architecture without overpowering it. Different buildings may require anything from wall mounted architectural lights, canopy lights, and wall packs in a wide range of size, voltage, wattage, and color options.
4. Security lights of some sort should always be installed whenever architectural patterns vary or diverge and shadows form under eaves, canopies, walkways, or connecting structures can serve as a hiding place for criminal mischief.
Oftentimes, contractors are hired by offices, churches, municipal buildings, institutions, hotels, restaurants, resorts, and country clubs that require a highly customizes architectural lighting system that will speak to all the many considerations that contractors must factor into developing a truly effective outdoor lighting presentation. These clients often have tight budgets both for equipment and for power requirements, so it is necessary as well to have a wide range of line and low voltage options ready to offer the client at the line item level to make the invoice legally compliant with dark sky and foot candle regulations, practical safety and security concerns, decorative needs, and cost effectiveness through reduced power requirements and minimal long-term benefits.
In these situations, both pre-packaged kits and highly specialized architectural lighting equipment can often tip the balance in favor of a truly comprehensive architectural lighting design that goes beyond the basic cornerstone elements of standard configurations.
Sign and Building Edifice Lighting
Sign lighting can set the tone for the entire site’s lighting system and help your clients more effectively brand their facility. Larger buildings that feature the company brand or logo painted on the building wall itself can be lit with specialty edifice lighting fixtures that will highlight colors and lettering without creating light pollution for surrounding areas. Flagpole lights can be installed very cost effectively to showcase a client’s patriotism and keynote an important element of the landscape in general.
Architectural Landscape Lights
Architectural landscape lighting delivers a more robust illumination to larger campuses with a great deal of area between the property line and primary structure(s). Certain landscape features such as waterworks, decorative sculptures, outdoor break facilities, and recreational areas can be highlighted in such a way as to compliment the architecture of the main building.
Some commercial lighting vendors, such as Easy Rack in Houston, Texas, furnish architectural landscape lighting kits and specialized landscape and building exterior lighting fixtures appropriate for more high-end projects such as resort hotels, five star restaurants, country clubs, and outdoor recreational facilities.
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