The Role of Lighting Mock-Ups

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JFK Tribute design

From concept to installation, lighting design can be a complicated process.  We design with an ever-changing palette of lighting technology – particularly with the continued development of LEDs.  We are also working with new architectural materials, laminates, veneers, glasses and acrylics that have unique properties that interact with light in different ways.

Although lighting designers often rely on their education, past experiences and computer calculations to understand how lighting will affect surfaces and spaces, there are always unique cases that cannot easily be quantified.  To ensure the conceptual lighting ideas we bring to the table will be transformed into successful installations, our office often employs the use of lighting mock-ups.

A great example of the mock-up process is our recently completed JFK Tribute in downtown Fort Worth.  Our design concepts included both fluorescent and LED backlighting techniques as well as edge-lighting of glass.

With backlighting, it is important to weight several factors to ensure an evenly illuminated panel.  The translucency of the panel being backlit is the most critical element.  For the photo panels, the architect was considering three different frosted white inlays to sit behind the photo film.  I requested a 24 inch square sample of each panel to test with lighting.  After an in-house mock-up review, I was able to tell the architect the required glass specification for successful backlighting, confirm the minimum cavity depth behind the panels and determine the exact fixture spacing.

JFK Tribute included a similar but separate title panel that was to be backlit.  Due to accessibility issues, we recommended an LED fiber optic panel system.  Again, a mock-up was used to determine the fiber optic spacing and cavity depth requirements for an even illumination.

For the glass edge-lighting, a mock-up was important to the client.  They did not understand the lighting concept and wanted to see the look before approving the design.  We requested an exact scale sample of the glass for the review as we wanted to ensure the font type, kerning and size of the text would be legible when lit.  The mock-up was a successful test of the concept.

These mock-ups culminated in a successful final installation for the JFK Tribute.

Mock-ups of Fluorescent Backlighting

Mock-up of Fiber Optic Backlighting

Mock-up of LED Edge Lighting

JFK Tribute
Final Installation