‘Unexpected’ Lighting Aesthetic Contributes to Urban Library Transformation

June 26, 2023

In recent years, libraries have struggled to stay relevant in a digital world. The city of Spokane (Washington) saw an opportunity to reinvent its library system, viewing each as more of a community center and gathering space. Citizens agreed, voting in favor of a bond that would renovate and refresh all libraries in the system. The Central Library in downtown Spokane experienced the most significant metamorphosis, with a massive renovation that took over two years to complete.

The new and improved Central Library features a library’s typical functions but with the addition of significant public space, meeting rooms, event space, media studios, business lab, children’s play area, and even a café.

“In revisiting the whole idea of a library, the city was looking for less of the ‘ssssh’ and more of an active space,” said Christina E. Raschko, senior lighting designer at Escent Lighting Design. Hired by Integrus Architecture and Group 4 Architecture, her team was responsible for the lighting design throughout the building.

‘Unexpected’ Lighting Aesthetic Contributes to Urban Library Transformation
‘Unexpected’ Lighting Aesthetic Contributes to Urban Library Transformation

Early in the project, Raschko identified the circular form as a guiding design element which informed selections utilized in the lighting package. She incorporated dots, circles, or globes wherever possible to carry the aesthetic. Luminaires from Eureka Lighting feature prominently throughout the three-story building.

As visitors enter the main doors, they are welcomed with oversized Odeon circular luminaires suspended from the vaulted ceiling. Each pendant features a dual-sided curving LED light source that provides even illumination over a surface. Two 80″ diameter and one 118″ diameter luminaires are clustered to create a statement piece that illuminates the open space and adjacent staircase.

“I really liked the 360-degree illumination of this ring, as well as its large scale,” said Raschko.

The Central Library’s third floor features an open-concept space with movable chairs that can be utilized for book readings, guest speakers, or other outside community events. Odeon pendants are suspended along the floor-to-ceiling window perimeter, illuminating a low staging platform and casual lounge seating.

Adjacent to the event space is the New Leaf Café, identified with high-top tables and chairs so library visitors can enjoy a coffee or snack while reading or studying. To carry the circular lighting theme, Raschko selected Eureka’s Arena-Ring pendants. Each 54” diameter fixture is bisected with three Arena-Slice-Round luminaires, serving a dual role of providing ambient illumination in the café as well as directed light down to the tables.

“Arena offers the repetition of the circular form but with a completely different look for the café,” said Raschko. “And I was intrigued that the Slice linear luminaires attach with magnetics, so there is the flexibility to adjust them as needed.”

Directly below the event space and café is the second-floor River Rumpus Children’s Playspace. Small jungle-gym-type apparatus, climbable furniture, and bright, bold graphics let visitors know that this space is 100% kid-friendly. Odeon pendants are suspended on very short aircraft cables, providing a fun contrast against the pale green drop ceiling. Classic Mika round globes, in 12” and 16” sizes, are interspersed with the Odeon rings.

“We wanted to create a touch of whimsy in this area,” said Raschko. “The Mika globes were envisioned to float through the space mimicking delicate cloud puffs while the supporting Odeon luminaires brighten and anchor the play area.  These fixtures keep the continuity of the circular design theme, but with a distinctly child-like approach.”

Raschko mentions that the north-facing glass walls of the second and third floors overlook the downtown core, so keeping continuity in the lighting aesthetic was essential. At night, passersby can look up and see the impressive Odeon luminaires suspended across the perimeter of the two floors.

Beyond the children’s play area, the second floor opens up into a more traditional library environment. Book stacks are spread across the space and interspersed with pockets of lounge seating and standard work table set-ups. One area, in particular, had initially been designated as study tables. So, Arena-Ring 54″ fixtures with Arena-Slice-Round luminaires had been specified to provide downlight to each worktop. The final configuration, however, features a combination of soft seating and casual tables and chairs. Raschko notes that both Arena’s aesthetic and illumination enhance this new configuration.

Elsewhere, Mika globes in 12″ and 16″ diameters add interest and illumination over book stacks. Ceiling height changes from features such as acoustic ceiling tiles, substrates, and dropped acoustic panels created a challenge for lighting installation. All Mika pendants are suspended at the same height, yet the ceiling’s geometry creates the illusion that the globes are floating in a staggered pattern.

Several meeting rooms and lounge areas around the library’s perimeter – on multiple levels – are illuminated with Mika pendants. Again, Raschko was conscious that these would be visible from the street and the exterior building expression should remain consistent floor to floor.

Washington State has one of the strictest energy codes in the country, and these regulations are at the heart of any lighting design project. All luminaires in the library feature dimming capability, as dictated by the code. And all are managed with Acuity Brands’ nLight® networked lighting controls platform. Library staff can seamlessly control the illumination in the various spaces day and night: they can adapt lighting environments for specific events, improve occupancy comfort, and ultimately contribute to reduced energy costs.

“It was really exciting to see this lighting project develop from concept to reality,” said Raschko. “I am pleased that I was able to create usable, functional illumination with exciting and unusual luminaires that are quite unexpected in a library setting.”

The Spokane Central Library has become the 21st-century facility the city had envisioned. Innovative public spaces and services and an unconventional interior and lighting design have all contributed to the transformation. What was once a seemingly empty building has now been reinvigorated as Spokane citizens embrace their new community space.

Project Name: Spokane Central Library

Location: Spokane, Washington, USA

Project completion: Spring 2022

Lighting Design: Escent Lighting Design

Eureka Agent: J.C. Wright Lighting

Photographer: Grand Showing Photography


Best of the Best Red Dot Award Won for Tangram-Trace by Eureka Lighting

Related Articles

Latest Articles

  • Video: LEDVANCE Lightpoint Learning Facility

    Video: LEDVANCE Lightpoint Learning Facility

    February 23, 2024 LIGHTPOINT Studio & Showroom, the brand-new corporate classroom training facility, located at their national customer service and sales center (NCSSC) in Westfield, IN. Go HERE for more information Read More…

  • How Effective Communication Reduces Plant Hazards

    How Effective Communication Reduces Plant Hazards

    February 23, 2024 By Rick Farrell, President, PlantTours In plant operations, the margin for error is notoriously slim. The smallest oversight, a single misinterpreted instruction, or an unnoticed alert can be the difference between smooth operations and catastrophic failures. While advanced technologies and protocols play an undeniable part in ensuring safety, the bedrock upon which… Read More…

  • A Guide To The Most Essential Hand Tools for Electricians

    A Guide To The Most Essential Hand Tools for Electricians

    February 22, 2024 By Jonard Tools It is currently a great time to be an electrician- however, you’ll need the right hand tools for the job. In this article Jonard Tools highlight the most essential hand tools for electrical work, as well as dive into the specifics of how they are utilized and why they’re… Read More…

  • New Research on Smart Home Technology and Market Trends

    New Research on Smart Home Technology and Market Trends

    February 22, 2024 AI-driven features in home energy management and security systems excite more than half of the current smart home users, concludes new research exploring the perceptions, preferences, and reservations of residential renters and owners regarding the adoption and usage of smart home technologies. However, the survey also highlights data privacy concerns and high… Read More…

Changing Scene

  • LEDVANCE Canada Welcomes Cristiano Konofal as National Account Manager

    LEDVANCE Canada Welcomes Cristiano Konofal as National Account Manager

    February 26, 2024 LEDVANCE Canada has introduced Cristiano Konofal as their National Account Manager. “I am thrilled to announce the return of Cristiano Konofal as a National Account Manager. Cristiano has extensive experience working with our customer base and has technical skills that will be an asset to our team. We look forward to seeing… Read More…

  • Government of Canada Invests in TDG Transit Design Group

    Government of Canada Invests in TDG Transit Design Group

    February 23, 2024 The Governemnt of Canada has announced a FedDev Ontario investment of over $1.6 million for TDG Transit Design Group, a manufacturer and designer of made-in-Canada, energy-efficient LED lighting systems for the global rail transit industry. Through this investment, TDG Transit Design Group will adopt new equipment at its newly expanded 10,000-square-foot facility… Read More…

  • Alberta to Invest in Apprenticeship Seats Through 2024 Budget

    Alberta to Invest in Apprenticeship Seats Through 2024 Budget

    February 23, 2024 Through their Budget 2024, Alberta’s government would invest an additional $24 million per year over the next three years to create 3,200 apprenticeship seats at 11 post-secondary institutions across the province. The new investment would bring the total funding through the Apprenticeship Learning Grant for the 2024-25 academic year to $78 million…. Read More…

  • PataBid and City Electric Supply Introduce Estimating Software Promotion

    PataBid and City Electric Supply Introduce Estimating Software Promotion

    February 23, 2024  City Electric Supply Corporation CA and PataBid have joined forces to offer our mutual customers an exclusive discount on Quantify electrical estimating software.  Sign up for a free trial and link your CES account to your PataBid Quantify account to unlock this special offer. If you’re not registered with CES yet, drop by… Read More…