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IM lights affect Skyspace

By Tina Ou     10/4/12 7:00pm


Students may notice a change to the intramural field lights in the next month. 

The IM lights are being adjusted to avoid influencing the sunset light shows of neighboring Turrell Skyspace, according to Assistant Director for IM and Club Sports Justin Stafford. The changes to the IM lights should be completed by the end of October, Stafford said. 

Stafford said the issue of the IM lights adversely affecting the Turrell Skyspace became apparent toward the end of the spring semester of 2012, when several IM games had to be rescheduled to accommodate the sunset light shows at Turrell Skyspace. 

Jones College junior and powderpuff coach Nick Semon said he and a few other students had received an email earlier this semester from the Intramural Sports regarding a few dates when the IM fields would be closed because the lights could not be turned on due to events being held at the Turrell Skyspace. 

Jones College senior and powderpuff coach Richard Ledo said there was a rumor that donors who visited the Rice campus and wanted to visit the Turrell Skyspace would ask the Barbara and David Gibbs Wellness and Recreation Center to turn off the IM field lights for better viewing of the light shows. According to Ledo, there has not been a problem with the IM lights for the past four weeks. 

Turrell Skyspace Manager Emily Stein said she has been working with the recreation center to communicate possible scheduling conflicts this year. 

According to Recreation Center Director Tina Villard, she and Stein communicate about two weeks in advance of any conflicting dates, and over the past month and a half, the Skyspace light shows did not affect much of the IM scheduling, with only about five dates containing potential conflicts. 

Stein said the university realized after projecting sunrise and sunset sequences that the light shows would overlap with IM events and that the IM field lights would influence the light shows. The Turrell Skyspace light show operates based on the light perceived from its surrounding environment, Stein said. The LED lights shining onto the ceiling shift depending on the colors of the sky during sunrise and sunset, but lights from the campus can also affect the light sequence. 

"The light sequence, because it's comprised of light, is affected by lights," Stein said. 

"There are lights all over, including the IM lights and the walkway lights."

Stein said the university has been working with a light consultant to reach a solution that will minimize light spillage in the areas around the Turrell Skyspace. 

Facilities, Engineering and Planning Senior Project Manager Eleni Barzouka said the lighting consultant will work with the campus electrical engineer to find a resolution. According to Barzouka, the adjustments will only take place for a few selected IM field lights and will include changing those light fixtures to reduce or eliminate light spillage. Barzouka said the change will not affect the quality of the lighting. 

"Only a few poles facing the Skyspace will be adjusted," Barzouka said. "This involves changing some light fixtures to those that reduce spillage, adjusting the mounting height of these light fixtures and using visors specifically made for these updated fixtures which will direct the light to the IM fields."

Villard said changing the IM lights was necessary to make sure they would be able to provide sufficient lighting for the entire field. According to Villard, the university will be footing the bill for the light changes, and in the case of Field 7, the lights will be an upgrade. 

During the past few weeks, the Turrell Skyspace has been closed on Mondays and Wednesdays to accommodate IM matches, Stein said. On Tuesdays, the Skyspace is also closed, reverting from its role as a public arts exhibition to being a music lab for the Shepherd School of Music, which experiments with digital music and acoustic music inside the space. Stein said that eventually, the Shepherd School of Music will also hold performances on selected Tuesdays in the Skyspace. 

"[The Skyspace is] kind of like an ampitheater, though it's an art installation," Stein said. 

The Turrell Skyspace is currently closed for cleaning, maintenance and technical updates before the Centennial Celebration, according to Stein. During the Centennial Celebration, the Skyspace will be open only to Rice staff, students, faculty and alumni. It will reopen to the public on Oct. 15. 

Barzouka said the problem of light spillage is often encountered around stadiums, intramural facilities and airports. 

"The solution reached enables the lighting of the current fields to be updated while at the same time addressing concerns for the light spillage of the Skyspace, an art project of great significance to Rice," Barzouka said. 

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