May 1, 2007
by Murrye Bernard Assoc. AIA LEED AP

Event: Environmental Refractions
Location: The Cooper Union, 04.10.07
Speaker: James Carpenter — principal & founder, James Carpenter Design Associates
Organizer: The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union


Glass panels with blue reflectors create the effect that 7WTC is merging with the sky.

Jessica Sheridan

Light conveys information and defines our surroundings. The work of James Carpenter, principal and founder of James Carpenter Design Associates, explores perceptions of light in transmission, reflection, and refraction, often abstracting images brought in from outside (sun, sky, water, trees). Carpenter discussed a few of his early projects as part of the Feltman Lectures, a series dedicated to advancing lighting design through the exploration of practical, philosophical, and aesthetic attributes of light and illumination.

The Luminous Glass Bridge was designed to enrich and awaken users’ perception of nature. A chapel in Indianapolis is a meditative environment created through structural glass prisms that split the visible spectrum into the blue to yellow range. A glass screen for the Rachofsky Residence, designed by Richard Meier, FAIA, is virtually structure-free. The edge of the glass is revealed, and privacy is created on one side constructed of glass with heightened reflectivity.

Carpenter’s interests predominantly focus on daylight rather than artificial light, but he has begun to integrate LED technology in his projects since it reacts similarly to natural light. He explored both realms in the enclosure, lobby, and podium light wall in 7 World Trade Center. The façade enclosure celebrates the incredible quality of light in Manhattan, according to Carpenter. The 8-inch-deep skin is composed of glass panels with blue stainless steel reflectors at the sill, creating an effect that the building is merging with sky. The base of the building enclosure is constructed of two permeable layers that conceal a Consolidated Edison sub-station. The first layer blocks views during the day, and at night a stainless steel scrim reflects light from LED sources — proving that our perception is easily altered through the abstraction of light.

Murrye Bernard, Assoc. AIA, is a designer with TEK Architects and Director of Forward, the quarterly publication of AIA’s National Associates Committee.


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