Wednesday 27 Apr 2011


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Housed in a new subterranean space beneath the Yale School of Medicine Library, the Cushing Center displays the extensive collection of brain specimens, artifacts and archival materials amassed by prominent neurosurgeon Dr. Harvey Cushing during the early part of the 20th century.

Designed as an exhibit, research and meeting space, the Center features custom millwork with carefully integrated LED lighting to illuminate this unique collection and provide a singular visitor experience. This system delivers the desired visual quality and meets curatorial requirements for low-heat, low-UV lighting and advanced controls to protect the collection from light exposure.

To create a unique environment for viewing and studying materials from the collection, the lighting had to be discrete, low-heat, and low-UV. Based on mockups and calculations, the resulting lighting system combines tiny warm-white linear LED luminaires integrated into the cabinetry. As someone enters, the occupancy controls activate the display lighting that illuminates 400 jars of preserved brains and other artifacts.

When visitors depart the space, the occupancy sensors return the space to near-darkness to preserve the materials. To meet ambient and egress lighting requirements, a few compact fluorescent ceiling luminaires provide necessary downlighting. For the study kiosks, office, and adjoining meeting room, linear fluorescents provide the task and ambient lighting.

The pushbutton LED lighting for the horizontal manuscript vitrines ensures that lighting is only turned on to the proper level for a short period of time when a visitor activates it. More than half of the 1.84 watts per square foot system is display lighting on sensors, so the low-energy usage is driven by the actual visitor traffic. Overall, the lighting balances vertical and horizontal display needs with a low-energy system that integrates with the architectural design and meets strict curatorial requirements.

From all angles, the visitor is immersed in a visual environment that uses display lighting to provide the ambient illumination for this particular space.

Atelier Ten Ltd