Lighting the Path to Artistic Inspiration

Current Lighting’s interior and exterior brands come together to inspire the next generation of artists at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Chris Ambridge

ellington logoBased in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington D.C., the Duke Ellington School of the Arts is a nationally-recognized high school that specializes in arts education. While traditional academics are offered, the primary focus is the arts. Majors in dance, literary media and communications, museum studies, instrumental or vocal music, theatre, technical design and production, and visual arts are offered.

Founded in 1974 by Peggy Cooper Cafritz and Mike Malone, the school occupies a building originally built in 1898 as Western High School.  The District of Columbia Public Schools recently embarked on a multi-million dollar renovation project to modernize the facility and expand from 171,000 to 271,000 square feet. The project included the renovation and addition of classrooms, dance and art studios, common areas, a media center and a 300-seat performance hall.

While the primary goal of construction was to add new spaces and modernize the entire building the architect, Cox Graae + Spack, aspired to also retain the historic nature of the unique facility. MCLA, the architectural lighting design firm based in Georgetown, was the lead on selecting the lighting to be used on the project in collaboration with One Source Associates. This project was unique and unlike traditional school projects. To support the architects’ vision, the lighting design deviates from the standard educational template to address the needs of these students.

The lighting design called for high-quality products that would support the intended experience of the space, meet precise light levels in certain areas, perform as advertised and contribute to building code compliance.

The end result is a building which stands as a tribute to the great Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, a storied and historic past and a celebration of what is to come in the future.

Largent™ from Architectural Area Lighting is being used to illuminate the iconic front entrance of the building. Largent embodies timeless geometric design capable of precise and comfortable illumination to ensure safety, project a sense of scale and align with the design of the façade.

The 6ʺ LightFrame (LC6) downlight from Prescolite is being used to illuminate the entire Ellington Gallery. The glare-free optical control of the LC6 supports the preference for a sleek, minimalist aesthetic that doesn’t bring unwanted attention to the light source. The Ellington Gallery serves as the main gathering area for receptions, book signings and art exhibitions.

LCAT from Columbia Lighting adds quiet elegance to the 2D and 3D Art Studios with the simplicity and modularity in a popular form. The visual comfort of students and faculty was a driving factor in the selection of the LCAT for these studios. The high efficiency acrylic center lens features linear prisms for superior performance without LED pixelation, contributing to the visual comfort of the room without sacrifice to quality of light.

In the 300-seat Performance Hall, the Megalum MC10LED cylinder from Prescolite was selected to strategically space the fixtures while ensuring proper footcandles are achieved. The Megalum features a 2DM Lutron 2-wire, one percent diming option, which is perfect for this performance area where the goal is for the lighting to dim when needed and contribute to the drama for recitals and readings.

Megalum is also featured in the Show Choir and Wind Ensemble Studios. The quality of the light in these areas is critical as students and faculty spends countless hours there participating in rehearsals, classes, workshops and even Master Classes.

In the Vocal Studio, Theatre/Drama Studio, Media Center and math classrooms the 65L-P Stance from Litecontrol provides a pleasing crisp visual texture where a strategic mix of uplight and downlight are needed. The Design Lights Consortium (“DLC”) qualified product contributed to energy code compliance.

The collective suite of products from Current Lighting complements the desired aesthetic of the architect with a selection of elegant, yet dependable luminaires that contribute to the pleasing visual comfort of each area and minimizes any distraction from the architect’s design so that students can enjoy the facility for many years to come.


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