2014 Recipient | AIA Small Project Awards

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Starlight | Notes of Interest

This site-specific light sculpture marks a new era for the museum, igniting the majestic circular stair at the heart of its historic interior. Conceived as a perfect circle in elevation, the sculpture is in dialogue with the stair so that old and new are joined in one experience.

As visitors move up and down between floors, they perceive a dynamic array of radiating patterns of light points. The effect is generated by the inherent nature of a geometry of a uniform spatial grid. In a way that the Museum has not seen in years, visitors are using the public spaces of the building. The design holds a series of contrasting complexities. Initially experienced as bright and boldly sculptural, up close it becomes delicate and ethereal.

The design team did not add fancy program or color to the lights – not only as a cost consideration, but to emphasize the purity of the light, the simple circular elevation, and the dynamic array of starburst moiré effects inherent in the three-dimensional grid. In a series of mockups, the concept of un-lensed light was tested for intensity and visual affect. The premise was based on the practical consideration of taking the budget and dividing by the cost per LED and coming up with a number of diodes.

Each light diode, or pixel, is constructed from double-sided circuit boards, on which white LED chips are mounted. The use of naked (non-lensed) chips provides the most precise point of light available. This state of the art technology uses minimal energy, generates virtually no heat, and will last for years without replacement.

Additional Credits

  • Lighting engineer: Studio 1Thousand
  • Fabrication: RUSHdesign
  • Photo Credit: © RUSH Design / © Eduard Hueber/ArchPhoto Inc.


  • Architect: Wendy Evans Joseph, FAIA
  • Firm: Cooper Joseph Studio
  • Location: New York, New York

Jury Comments

A beautiful integration of an ethereal installation into a historic building. Offers tremendous visual impact on the space with no real alteration of the historic context. Technologically innovative. A minimal intervention with maximum impact. Clever re-interpretation and transformation of the chandelier, with an engaging light array that would constantly change as you move around it.

2014 AIA Small Project Awards Jury

  • Linda Reeder, AIA, Chair
  • Linda Reeder Architecture
  • New Haven, Connecticut
  • Deb Silber
  • Fine Homebuilding Magazine
  • Newtown, Connecticut
  • Rene Gonzalez, AIA
  • Rene Gonzalez Architect
  • Miami, Florida
  • Lisa Tilder, AIA
  • Ohio State University
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Craig Scott, AIA
  • IwamotoScott Architecture
  • San Francisco, California

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