School café links engineering and art
In December 2012, Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, added Ground, a new café to its engineering campus. The café was intended to encourage community, creativity, and collaboration. The university wanted the café to be high-tech yet elegant, with features that could not be found anywhere else on campus.
Inspired by the work of lighting designer Leo Villareal, architects from Bentel & Bentel Architecture Firm, along with Charney Architects and the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science envisioned a digital LED canvas as the centerpiece of the design. The canvas was created to display engineering research as art, allowing students and faculty to create their own designs. By making it a center of interaction, the university hoped that the canvas, nicknamed LuxED, would symbolize the role of engineering as a bridge between the sciences and humanities. The administration also hoped the canvas would attract students from other disciplines, potentially leading to creative ideas and collaborations.
To realize this unique design concept, Bentel & Bentel specified an LED lighting solution. They mounted strands of Color Kinetics iColor Flex MX over 42 m² (450 sq ft²) of the café wall and ceiling and mapped and managed each LED node on the strand with a Color Kinetics Video System Manager Pro.
As hoped, the canvas has inspired students across all fields. A group of students and faculty has formed to learn the ins and outs of LED hardware and software, and the canvas has been a medium for relevant classes, such as digital animation.
"The design concept for the café included a large, dynamic LED display from the outset," said architects Peter Bentel and Richard Charney. "The knowledge and advice proffered by Color Kinetics was invaluable to us while we were bringing this concept to the reality of the custom interactive digital canvas that is the heart of the café's ambience."