SSB November 9, 2010

Steven Holl

St. Ignatius Chapel in Seattle.

Sketch: Box containing bottles of light. Implies spatial complexity, plays with perception.

Model of the ceiling: Ideas of bottles of light has translated in important principle re: light: subtlety can be your friend. Points of light are cited in ways that transform the rooms their in. Just introduction of color to place can change your perception of the entire space.

Interior is a textured plaster, mostly white. Panel: backside is painted yellow, effecting a cascade of yellow light on the surrounding walls.

Holl plays a lot with the shape of light.


Sacred light has often played off dimness, rather than direct light which focuses our attention.

Light properties:

The characteristics of a surface determine not only how much light but also in what way light is reflected. Most real materials tend to give mixed reflection.

Specular Reflection: Mirror; light reflects intact

Diffuse reflection: Light refracts completely

Mixed Reflection

High Contrast: Illumination of one foot candle is sufficient

Low contrast: ilumnation of over 100 foot candles is required

Contrast is an extremely important factor for visual performance. High levels of illumination are required to compensate for poor contrast.

Ways to think about lighting

1  Atrium, popular in Europe as part of provision that everyone must have access to daylight. How extreme the gradation from light to dark relies heavily on the surfaces. Design of luminous environment is design of light as it enters a space. 2

2  Light shelves: take light and reflect it onto the ceiling.

3  Light Well

4  Clerestory

5 Light duct (mirrored tubes)


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