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Parking Garages John Hancock

Prismatic lighting boosts comfort and
security level in John Hancock parking garage

The John Hancock Center is one of the most visible landmarks in downtown Chicago, serving as home to thousands of residents and businesses. Part of the 100-story structure is a 750-car parking facility, located on floors four through twelve.

When the Center added the two most recent areas to the garage, floors four and five, and renovated the sixth floor, a high intensity discharge lighting system was installed instead of the fluorescent units used on other floors. The system utilizes Holophane PrismGlo® Mentor® fixtures with 250 watt metal halide lamps.

"Because we have people coming and going from the building 24 hours a day, security is always an issue. Our goal in lighting the facility was to make it extremely bright everywhere (even in corners), yet comfortable and glare-free," said Marshal Stein, Division Manager for Standard Parking, which manages the parking facility.

Before the PrismGlo units were installed, a prototype was mounted and adjusted as needed. Holophane's Computer Aided Lighting Analysis (CALA) software was used to develop a basic lighting plan. Fixtures are stem mounted on the concrete ceiling in pockets between the 26-inch cross beams, located every 18 feet. Mounting height is nine feet with spacing 20 feet on center.

"The PrismGlo unit is an unusual type of fixture for a parking structure. Yet, the fixtures speak for themselves. They're efficient and provide both direct and indirect illumination; the photometrics are terrific," commented James Letchinger, vice president, Superior Lighting Company, Chicago, who designed the lighting.

Because only half of each fixture is visible below the bottom of the beams, indirect lighting was essential.

The PrismGlo units provide 50 percent uplight, which is reflected off the ceiling. Although the exterior of the John Hancock Center is dark-colored, the entire parking facility is painted white, with windows on the perimeter.

"A big difference exists between the fluorescent system and the metal halide units," said Stein. "The PrismGlo fixtures not only give higher levels of illumination, but a better quality of light. The environment is bright and uniformly lighted, yet there are no shadows or glare."

He indicated that surveillance within the facility has improved since visibility for the security cameras is better. Whereas a high pressure sodium system would tend to change the color of the cars, under the metal halide system, automobile colors can be easily identified by both owners and security personnel.

To help ease driver transition from the external environment during the day to the interior of the garage, additional PrismGlo fixtures were installed at the entrance and exit. Stein indicated an added benefit of the PrismGlo fixtures is energy efficiency. Overall, one third fewer metal halide fixtures were used compared to the number of fluorescent units utilized in other areas.

Since maintenance personnel are on-site 24 hours a day, lamps will be changed as needed. The fixtures will also be wiped down at intervals, although Stein indicated the prismatic glass reflectors collect little dirt.
"The PrismGlo units enhance the environment from both an aesthetic and efficiency standpoint," he concluded. "Not only do the fixtures look good, but they provide more light with fewer units. They also require little maintenance."

The John Hancock Center is managed by U.S. Equities Realty, Inc., and the parking facility is managed by Standard Parking.


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