View Full Version : Design Help on a High End subdivision entrance

05-07-2008, 12:07 AM
I am preparing a design proposal and bid on a much larger project than I have done in the past. I am going to have a regional representative help me with this, but I was going to see if any of you would take a look and give me some design ideas. I want to do something that will really stand out, and I don't want to miss a chance to take advantage of the really great elements available.

I am looking for good ways to graze the walls, suggestions on the number of lights per spruce and river birch. The developer also specifically requested that the large triple-log columns be really well lit. Any tips you guys have would be greatly appreciated.

This is a high visibility, high-end neighborhood entrance, and I would love to make it absolutely spectacular.

I can send a PM with budget info if anyone is interested. Thanks!!

05-07-2008, 12:09 AM
Just a few more. As you can see there is the one large flood on the sign.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-07-2008, 01:34 AM
Well, where to begin? That is one heck of an entry. :)

The possibilities and options are pretty much endless there. Do you have any idea of an acceptable budget? If they have $25k to spend or $100K to spend will make all the difference in the world as to what direction I would take. I am not talking about component quality here either, the budget will dictate the coverage and complexity of your design.

No point suggesting a bunch of ideas that cannot be implemented due to budgetary considerations.

Have a great day.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-07-2008, 01:42 AM
One thing I personally would NOT be doing is focusing too much attention on all of those boulders... I would put my assets into lighting the Structure (grazing & downlighting), fences (silhouette effect?) and all of the Birch, White Pine & Spruce (highlighting)

Same with the water feature... ignore the moonrocks and focus the attention on the running water only.

If you do have a big budget to work with, then I would also be projecting light from the fence line onto the mature forested area in the background, paying close attention to the sightlines into the fixtures as you drive out of the development back to the road.

As one of my clients likes to say: "Everything can be solved with enough money and time."

Have a great day.

05-07-2008, 08:20 AM
The only thing I would throw in would be to get some labor help, I mean diggers and make sure everything is real deep. You know you'll get a call in a few months after the maintenance crew was in their with the tiller and laying new mulch and the wires were shredded by the tiller. I'd use conduit all the way into the stake everywhere and I'd use hadco S3-H stakes. Yes this takes alot of flexiblity out of the project so you have to spend 80% designing. Its like measure twice cut once mentality.

Good looking entry, wow...I really like it. Hate to say it but if you havent done a project like this I'd spend a few nights demoing it just for yourself. Then when you put it in conduit you know your right.

You have a potential masterpiece there, good luck.

05-07-2008, 09:12 AM
I really appreciate your suggestions. I think the conduit is a great idea on a commercial site like that. James, I am glad you pointed out that the boulders would not be a good subject. I guess they will be receiving plenty of indirect, reflected light anyway. I also like the idea of doing something with the fence. They obviously spent some money bringing all that timber in, and it would be nice to show it off.

Would the best method to silhouette the fence, be to project light from the fence line onto the mature forested area in the background.

I will PM you the budget.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-07-2008, 09:57 AM
Ok, I know this will eat fixtures and thus $$$ but I would try backlighitng the fence with ingrade fixtures located just behind the fence rails and using a Bipin or wedge lamp rather then an MR16... this will push soft 'pillows' of light up and graze the underside of each fence rail etc. Then I would use Bullets with 50w narrow spot and narrow flood MR16s to project onto the mature trees in the background. (maybe 35W depends on the ambient light) You can get away with this because there is nobody traversing the space between the fence and the forest. Think of the forest as the stage and the fenceline as the pit where you are using projection footlight fixtures.

Good luck with this... it could be an award winner if done right.

05-07-2008, 10:46 AM
James, those are great ideas. I feel like those are the kinds of things I can demo or explain to the developer and differentiate myself from the other contractors. Any ideas for the large log columns that support the gate header? I know that is one thing I could demo that is really important to the builder. Should I strictly uplight them?

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-07-2008, 11:13 AM
I would uplight them from the bottom, both sides, and downlight them from the top, both sides, I would also add a downlight fixture from the middle of the beam span onto the driveway infront and behind the 'gates'. It adds a lot of appeal as you approach the structure.

Gotta run now...

Chris J
05-07-2008, 08:06 PM
I would probably avoid these back-lighting techniques on a commercial property unless you do a demo and show the entire board of directors the effect and intent. While this would be tremendous positioning from a 'lighting design" perspective, the commercial properties usually want a whole lot of "POP" with high wattage lamps. In my dealings with subdivision entrances, you can't approach these jobs in the same way you do a residential property because you have to make an entire HOA happy, not just one or two people. IMHO, these people are going to want these structures and boulders to really stand out. The subtleties of shadows and intricate details are not going to be appreciated by the common passer-by, and will most likely go unnoticed.
This is just my opinion, so I hope no one takes offense.

05-07-2008, 08:21 PM
you are right on the money Chris J

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-08-2008, 12:04 AM
No offense taken Chris... I am just glad that I don't have to pander to people with poor taste! Overlighting and making boring things like boulders "POP" is not my idea of nice outdoor lighting. I would be more tempted to work at convincing the powers that be that soft and subtle IS nice.

With the sheer volume of objects to be lit at that project, I think the overall effect of treading softly would be much more appealing.

All designers of every stripe get faced with the situation where they must educate the client as to what good design is and what it is not. I would rather stick to what I know and do the job as I know it should be done then to bow to the whims of a group that think that brighter is better.

Ultimately, a job like this one is not over when you power it up... this will remain as a permanent statement of the work that the designer/contractor is capable of for years to come.

Sometimes walking away from a job when the right mix is not present is the best thing you can do.

(By the way, in a PM in which we discussed the budget for this project, I advised him to back off the silhouete of the fencing... there is just not enough $$$ to achieve that effect on this project)

Have a great day.

Chris J
05-08-2008, 12:15 AM
James, I agree. But like I said, it is nearly impossible to pull a job like this off and make everyone happy. To most lighting pros, your suggestions are right on target. To the average homeowner or resident of this community, they won't understand. The biggest problem I have seen when dealing with these sub-division entrances is that you only get to meet with a select few individuals to discuss the design possibilities. But after it's all said and done, the rest of the community wants to chime in and express their opinion. Boards are influenced and persuaded by the majority of which they represent. You can do everything the few wanted, but it is the sum of the whole which will sometimes dictate if you get paid the balance of the project.
All I can say is that you better have a very clear contract with these people which outlines the intentions and what will have to happen should any changes be made.
It's not a matter of pandering to poor taste, so you don't have to look down your nose when you say that. It is simply a matter of trying to make everyone happy (which is impossible) and, instead, try to please the majority of the homeowners who will ultimately pay the bill.
And by the way, if these people thought these boulders were boring, they probably wouldn't have spent the tens of thousands to put them there.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-08-2008, 12:22 AM
LOL I get you Chris...

and it isnt that the boulders are boring in and of themselves, it is that they are boring objects to light up. I'm sure in a bunch of years time, when things have matured and weathered, they wont stand out as much as they do now.

Eden Lights
05-08-2008, 02:15 AM
I think Chris and James have brought up an excellent topic of various light levels and design principals for different types of properties and clients. I wanted to share
a couple of examples of this that comes to mind from my experience.

One of them was just last month. I have a excellent client that bought a beautiful historic MUD on a very busy street with alot of ambient light. The project had somewhat of a budget and the focus was to lease units by drawing attention to the building that had been sitting there for decades. The initial install consisted of standard 35watt lamps with a few various beam spreads and lenses. Everyone that saw the building loved it and I am sure James would approve. After a few months of sitting empty we tried something different to catch a few more eyes since traffic backs up in front of this building all the time. I moved to 37 watt IRC lamps, removed all spreads, and readjusted the fixtures to focus as much light on the top half of the three story building as possible without worrying so much about the ground level light patterns. Many people noticed the building in the following week or so and most commented on the recent renovation and mentioned that they noticed it at night. Scientific proof? No but it's half leased and the owner is happy and realizes that we should return to the original design after all units are leased even though it has doubled the cost of the project.

The second was a chain of restaurants that I did a flagship location lighting design for. All of the involved parties loved the subtle typical residential lighting effect and the parking lot lighting levels faded down near the building for excellent contrast that we all enjoy on a dark residential project. All the big boys loved it and we even got to add the plant material that we wanted to light in the final plans to go in about 40 locations over the next 16 months. Well here is where it goes sour really fast, It started drawing alot of attention from other professionals and before you know it they had determined that the light levels didn't meet IES liability standards. Not in the area of safe egress, but in the area of I got attacked, raped, or robbed and it was due to poor light levels. Long story short it looks like the local Walgreens now and the restaurant paid someone to remove everything since you could no longer even tell if it was on. I now have a release of liability clause in my contracts pertaining to Eden Lights providing lighting for ascetic reasons only.

05-08-2008, 08:09 AM
All very good ideas and responses. My experience has been that on subdivision entryways the light levels need to be a bit higher. Now I am definitely not talking quartz halogen blasting bright, but you do need to account for the fact that people that will be viewing these common areas, whether from a vehicle or a pedestrian standpoint will have to overcome the "Rod burnout" in their eyes from oncoming vehicular traffic which reduces your night vision accuity dramaticly. Most all very "subtle" shadowing will be lost to the viewer in this situation. In the usual context for someone to enjoy the backlighting of a fence, which I think is a neat idea, you need a little bit of time to allow your eyes to stop and look and pick up the subtle nuances of the play between light and shadow on the fence. This is great in a dark back yard setting where you have the time to slowly gaze over the whole lighting scene, but when you are driving this is a different story. you have a quick second to grab their attention away from the oncoming headlights. You will also have to deal with "headlamp wash" across the lighting scene as they ingress and egress the property. The art of lighting is very subjective and that is clearly evident by the different approaches every one takes to the same project. It doesn't mean they are wrong, it just shows that we all see the canvas in different ways and through our experiences, we approach it and look at it in different ways. A lot of it is about creating different emotional responses from what is being seen. Some will approach an area and want to make it more dramatic and emphasized, while someone will look at the same thing and want to make it more subdued. Every one has their own style. Janet Moyer and Greg Yale, both great designers, both approach their projects with their own styles and ideas. Is one wrong and one right? Nope, it's just their own personal style being implemented. I tell my customers you could have 5 different designers come and each would create a different luminous composition. For me I tell them look at the projects of the other lighting guys in my area and pick a style that suits your tastes. I am glad we all take a different approach to composition. This industry would be boring if we all had to do it the same way.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-08-2008, 08:46 AM
Well Done Tim....

Are you running for Office by any chance? :)

Have a great day.