Built in 1855 as the campus library, Bicentennial Hall is the oldest academic building at Virginia Theological Seminary. The school recently sold one of three valuable stone panel carvings from the palace of the Assyrian king (circa 850 BCE) that garnered significant funds for the project. VTS allotted funds for the fabrication of a large display case for the remaining two panels they owned. They also commissioned a replica casting of the auctioned panel for display. 

The project’s main programmatic objective of enhancing historic, aesthetic, and functional aspects within this important campus treasure compelled us to develop a non- invasive approach. Architectural and task illumination is achieved with indirect sources – we were able to uplight the ornate ceiling and simultaneously provide task lighting. The lighting systems offer uniform horizontal illumination for flexible task while also affording gentle accenting of vertical and ceiling surfaces effectively extending, containing, and framing visual delight and utility within an absolutely unique room. 

Given the juxtaposition of both the rich architectural expression of the renovated library interior and the beautiful artistic and cultural expression of the Assyrian tablets, the lighting is at once deliberately underwhelming and yet absolutely transformative of these two artifacts – the building and the art, synthesizing these fundamentally foreign elements into a coherent unity that is exploited by the lighting. As such, the value of the light is uniquely seductive without awareness of it. The integrated dimming control system is interfaced with AV controls to allow ease of use for a variety of activities and uses of the room. Utilizing a building wide architectural dimming control system ensures that energy use is minimized, while offering user- friendly engagement with the building. As such, occupancy sensors as well as an intuitive menu of preset scenes is available on a touchscreen at the entry.


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