Fisher Building Brooklyn Academy of Music

    Brooklyn, New York, USA

    Photo Credits: Francis Dzikowski

    Stellar performances demand exceptional lighting

    The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) has a 150-year history of cutting-edge performances. The recent expansion of the campus into a historical Salvation Army Building has been part of the effort to engage with the community, and become a thread in the fabric of Brooklyn culture.

    The Fisher Building is continuing the tradition of hosting BAM's avant-garde performances. Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design (CBBLD) wanted to echo this tradition in the lighting design. They used minimal exterior lighting to maintain the integrity of the historical building, concentrating on an interior lighting scheme that would welcome people, draw them in, and create a sense of excitement that spills into the street.

    CBBLD took advantage of the large pane picture windows along the front façade to create transparency between the street and the building, using Color Kinetics LED lighting to spark visual interest from the inside. They outfitted the coffered ceiling in the main lobby with warm white light using eW Cove MX Powercore luminaires in 2700 K. The ceiling panels glow with an engaging light, and a mirror on the far back wall helps to create the illusion of a continuous space.

    CBBLD installed iColor Cove MX Powercore (now specified with PureStyle Compact Powercore, IntelliHue) behind the frosted glass between each riser in the staircase between the lobby and the lower level, which houses the cafe lounge, exhibition area, and public restrooms. These lights pull visitors downstairs and help the aesthetic flow seamlessly from one level to the next.

    "The color-changing effect of the stair makes the passage between the two lobby levels a theatrical experience and helps draw people downstairs," said lighting designer Francesca Bettridge.

    CBBLD chose Color Kinetics for its reliability and wide range of products. They knew that eW Cove MX Powercore would provide a good, warm color of white and iColor Cove MX Powercore would provide rich colors of light. eW Cove MX Powercore luminaires are dimmable using commercially available reverse-phase ELV-type dimmers, while Color Kinetics iPlayer 3 controller offered a simple control solution for the color-changing luminaires that fit the budget and was easy for BAM staff to operate.

    LED lighting proved to be a good choice for the client for many reasons. BAM invests much of its budget in performances, community outreach, and cultivation of the arts to make the productions affordable to the youthful community. They therefore needed an energy-efficient, trouble-free lighting solution with low maintenance and long useful life. Because LED lighting uses less energy than other light sources, it met the requirements for LEED Gold certification.

    "The space is welcoming and not intimidating to the community. The light gives a certain transparency, playfulness, high energy, and visual interest," said Bettridge.
    Project credits

    Lighting Design:

    Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design

    Francesca Bettridge, Principal

    Michael Hennes, Associate Principal

    Nathalie Faubert, Senior Associate

    Ji-Young Lee, Associate


    H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture

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