Practical Pretty – MIT FRAT HOUSE
Written by: Lenora Desar
At Akers Dining Hall at Michigan State University, the goal was to create something fun and dynamic as well as easy to maintain. But while the end result is eye-catching, and the winner of an Illumination Award of Merit to boot, the process didn’t come without its challenges, such as a compressed schedule. At the time of the project’s design in 2014, fluorescent lamps were the favored light source at MSU, though the designer was able to introduce LED options into roughly one third of the project.
Decorative fixtures with fluorescent lamps differentiate the dining areas–from Italian to Middle Eastern cuisine. In the deli area, a blue pendant fixture (Barbican) stands over 4 ft high. “It really grabs your attention and pulls your eye in from afar,” says Mollie Clarahan, lighting designer at Stantec in Berkley, MI. “It creates a rhythm and almost becomes a bulkhead because of the large size.” The pendants are eye-shaped, and on the edge is a piece of clear acrylic. “The light comes through that edge and has a sparkle on either side,” Clarahan says. “It’s quite pretty.”
White Cylindrical fixtures with a red wrap (Barbican) ornament the pizza area. The wrap matches the red signage and the background wall, and complements the décor. The fixtures provide uniform up and downlight, and are composed of a wipeable acrylic that looks like fabric but is easily washable. The fixture is also closed at the bottom. “This is an important element when you have food, in case a lamp were to break,” Clarahan says. “This way there’s no contamination.”
photo credit: James Haefner Photography