The Richard B. Fisher Building is the first addition since 1987 to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The newly renovated and relit LEED Gold structure houses a new theater and uses lighting to enhance and complement the building’s visionary program. “It was essential for the building to have a street presence, and our lighting design creates an energy that is visible from the street,” says Francesca Bettridge, principal at Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design (CBBLD), lighting designers for the $50 million project, which was completed in 2012. “We also had to work with a landmarked façade, so everything we designed was sensitive to the existing fabric and welcoming to the surrounding community.”
The project, which began in 2007, adds a six-story building behind a historic two-story brick façade marked by three arched entryways that are now illuminated by recessed metal halide MR16 uplights. Accent lights using the same lamp are discreetly mounted above the side entrances to light the sidewalk. Recessed fluorescents in the second floor windowsills cast soft light onto window shades that act as scrims. A thin profile LED strip near the cornice illuminates the building name while banner signs internally lit with LEDs make the building visible from down the street, effectively reintroducing the building to the block with a fresh and warmly animated character.
An illuminated mural in the lobby can be seen from outdoors and draws people inside. Interior lighting for the lobby and theater uses low wattage halogen lamps, as the spaces required dimming. 3000K fluorescent, ceramic-metal-halide, and LED sources are also used throughout to reduce overall energy use and improve lamp life. “Mixed-use performing arts projects inevitably use more lamp types than a single-function building,” says Michael Hennes, senior associate for CBBLD. “Our goal for this project was to use these different lamps to create a unified composition of light and a warm atmosphere for the people using this space.”
Events held within the building, such as the inaugural ‘Eclipse’ performance—which used a comprehensive lighting installation by artist Anthony McCall—directly and indirectly highlight the importance of light for bringing new life to a forgotten space.