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Fresno Pacific University

Lighting increases Fresno Pacific Gym's functionality

The Special Events Center at Fresno Pacific University, Fresno, California, is truly a multi-functional facility. The 110’ x 100’ main floor not only serves as the site for daily physical education classes and intramural sports, but plays host to concerts, speeches and commencement exercises, as well as intercollegiate volleyball and basketball competition.

When the University recently updated the flooring and seating in the facility, the decision was made to upgrade the lighting system, in part, to accommodate the local cable television network, which planned to begin broadcasting home games. Previously, the gymnasium—which includes a 3,000 square-foot balcony—was illuminated with can-type high pressure sodium fixtures. Fresno Pacific Athletic Director, Dr. Dale Campbell, described the lighting as “shadowy and pinkish in color.”

“The room looked as though umbrellas had been installed on the ceiling and along the top of the stucco walls to block the light. Areas directly beneath the fixtures were very bright, but beyond these circles of light, the ceiling was dark and full of shadows. This created serious visual problems during volleyball competition in particular because the ball would sometimes pass through two or three dark, shadowy areas as it passed over the net,” Campbell explained.

Prior to the retrofit, university officials contacted several lighting manufacturers and visited similar applications. The system selected to illuminate the competition floor is Holophane Prismalume® units with 400-watt metal halide lamps. Thirty fixtures are mounted at 28 feet, spaced nine feet on center. The units provide 15 percent uplight to illuminate the greenish-colored acoustical foam ceiling.

Campbell indicated that because of the new seating installed, the competition floor had to be moved out about nine feet. While some of the original wiring could be utilized during the retrofit, the lighting system configuration was changed and additional fixtures were installed above the playing floor. Holophane’s Computer Aided Lighting Analysis (CALA) system was used to determine fixture placement. The designed illumination level is 56 footcandles (the cable TV station required a minimum of 50 footcandles to televise).

“One of the benefits of the prismatic glass fixtures is the uniformity of the illumination. The Prismalume fixtures light up the ceiling much more evenly than the previous can-type units, which makes the entire area seem brighter,” said Campbell.

In the balcony, Holophane PrismGlo® Aurora® fixtures with 400-watt metal halide lamps are used. The units are enclosed, which Campbell felt would be more comfortable for spectators seated on the 10 rows of bleachers. Six fixtures are installed, mounted about 12 feet above the floor at the front of the balcony, and five feet above the floor in the back. Spacing is 10 feet.

Lighting fixtures are illuminated about 10 hours each day, six days a week. The system is controlled manually from a locked switch box located on one wall.

Campbell related that before the retrofit, the gymnasium included a number of skylights that had become leaky—especially during the rainy season. All of the skylights were removed, which allowed the gym to become totally dark when the lights were turned off. From Campbell’s point of view, this has been an advantage as far as security is concerned because the darkness has eliminated incidental traffic that passed through the gym when the facility was not in use.

Although a regular maintenance schedule has not been established, fixtures will be group cleaned and re-lamped to avoid individual outages.

“The prismatic lighting has made a world of difference in the visibility within the gym,” Campbell concluded. “Even coaches and players from opposing teams have commented on how much better the gymnasium is lighted. The facility not only looks cleaner, but it’s proven more functional for athletes and others using the space.

In total, the Special Events Center seats approximately 1500. Enrollment at Fresno Pacific is 1600 students.


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