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

Event: Daylight and the City: Day Lighting in New York City Part 2, 1961 to Present
Location: Center for Architecture, 04.18.07
Speakers: Margaret Maile — design historian and Matthew Tanteri — daylighting consultant, Tanteri+Associates
Panelists: John An — principal daylighting, shading design, and lighting energy analyst, Atelier Ten; Florian Idenburg — project architect for the New Museum of Contemporary Art, NYC, SANAA
Moderator: Margaret Maile
Organizer: New York Section of the IESNA

As a follow up to last fall’s Part 1 of Daylight and the City, Tanteri+Associates’ Margaret Maile, design historian, and Matthew Tanteri, daylighting consultant, reconvened with a group of panelists to discuss daylighting in modern NYC. Starting where they left off (the Seagram’s Building and the 1961 Zoning Ordinance), panelists discussed where we’ve come since then and how history has influenced daylighting strategies today. Though the “glass box” is still an icon of contemporary architecture, designers no longer treat it as a sealed, artificially lit, interior environment. Modern technology and trends towards sustainable design have changed the way we articulate building façades and address daylighting. Panelists debated about whether daylighting is an art of a science and whether occupants should be entitled to “daylight rights” in the same way that air rights are regulated. It was agreed that sun charts are essential tools to evaluate the sun, despite more advanced technology available.

To illustrate a modern approach to daylighting in NYC, Florian Idenburg explained his strategies in the design of the New Museum of Contemporary Art on the Bowery. Early in the design process, his team conducted a zoning analysis of surrounding buildings to predict future sunlight patterns. The eight-story massing and expansive program occupies the entire zoning envelope. Three large galleries read as boxes that shift within the envelope in order to “let light in and people and art out.” Further strategies to admit daylight include the building’s permeable skin and integrated skylights that are grated to allow firefighter access. The grating itself was carefully selected and tested with a full size mock-up in order to allow the maximum penetration of daylight.

The modern condition and our love affair with the glass box continue to present challenges for daylighting, as designers grapple with issues of glare and thermal performance. Daylight is a major measure of success in a lighting strategy.

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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