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Johnson County library "shines" with prismatic lighting

Few libraries can make passersby do a double-take like the Shawnee branch of the Johnson County library system in suburban Kansas City. At night, light radiating through the facility's numerous windows draw attention to the structure's most striking features: its beamed wood ceiling and the geometrically-shaped, two-story glass wall that form's the building's north side.

"Part of the concept in lighting the facility was to be able to see the building from afar," said Dan Himmelberg, project designer for Gould Evans Architects. "We wanted the library to be seen at night as well as during the day.

"Forty-six Holophane PrismGlo Delphic luminaires with 175 watt color corrected metal halide lamps are installed in the main floor reading area, which comprises almost 12,000 square feet of the 17,000-square-foot facility. According to Don Sereda, electrical designer, Massaglia, Neustrom & Bredson, the engineering firm that designed the lighting, energy and the cost of the fixtures were factors in choosing the lighting system.

The PrismGlo fixtures were also selected because of their appearance and low glare. The fixtures provide 50 percent uplight and 50 percent downlight, giving unique directional ceiling illumination that complements the widespread horizontal illumination.

"With the height and wood deck, we needed indirect lighting that would light up and show off the ceiling," Sereda said. "The room is modern and rather cut up, which meant we needed enough downlight to illuminate the entire area."

Ceiling height in the library is 19 feet, with the PrismGlo fixtures at 14 feet, mounted on four, five-foot stems. The PrismGlo units, which have white stems and a black accordian baffle, were custom designed for the project. A black band wraps around each fixture, accentuating the library's black and white interior colors.

Fixture spacing is 12 feet x 12 feet. Footcandle level is 70 maintained.

"The luminaires provide uniform, natural daylight color throughout the room," Himmelberg said. "While the units have rounded edges and are decorative in appearance, they highlight the architectural details without calling attention to themselves."

Besides the pendant-mounted fixtures, the PrismGlo luminaires were used to create sidemounted wall sconces. Six sconces are installed along a high gabled area that divides the youth and adult areas.

Holophane's Computer Aided Lighting Analysis (CALA) software was used to determine footcandle levels on the work plane, as well as light levels on the ceiling. Remote ballasts were installed in an electrical room to control the noise level in the library, and to avoid marring the wooden ceiling.

"The library is very pleased with the lighting; comments have been very positive," Sereda said. "Shawnee does a great job of providing library services to the community."

The Shawnee branch will house approximately 28,000 books and will be open approximately 100 hours per week.

At present, there is no planned maintenance for the luminaires, although Sereda said he expects maintenance requirements to be minimal, compared to a fluorescent system. With the HID lighting, there are fewer fixtures and therefore fewer lamps to change.


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