Lighting Design: Marietta S. Millet

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The extraordinary range of architecture [presented by Millet] coupled with the author's lucid presentation of light as a rich and evocative part of design is central to what architects do, or ought to do. This book fills a vast need for the design profession.

--M. Susan Ubbelohde, University of California, Berkeley
Light Revealing Architecture

UW architecture professor Marietta S. Millet has become the dominant figure in the country in the field of architectural lighting design. She has earned national recognition as an author, teacher, practicing consultant, and researcher in the area of lighting in architecture.

Millet's book, Light Revealing Architecture, published by Van Nostrand Reinhold in 1996, distills the outcomes of many field investigations and photographic studies of buildings in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Europe. The richly illustrated volume explores the relationship between light and buildings and examines how particular lighting effects in exemplary buildings have been achieved.

Millet's teaching approach stresses the integration of lighting into the architectural design process. "Her class in lighting fixture design has become legendary," notes Jerry V. Finrow, dean of the UW College of Architecture and Urban Planning. That studio class was praised in a review in Architecture in August 1989.

"The work of my creative practice in architectural lighting focuses on the integration of light--both daylight and electric light--with the architectural intentions and form as conceived by the architects," explains Millet.

Her creative work has been recognized with numerous architectural design awards for buildings in which the lighting is singled out as a key feature of the success of the project. Examples include the 1995 Gold Key Grand Prize Award for Excellence in Hospitality Design for the Bellevue Club Hotel lobby/reception area; the 1994 Northwest and Pacific Region AIA Merit Awards for the Jaech Residence in Kirkland, Washington and the Campus Activities Building at The Evergreen State College; and the 1990 Seattle Chapter AIA Citation Award for Overlake Park Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Washington.

Millet's early research on lighting resulted in a graphic method to estimate daylight distribution and levels in a room, called the UW Graphic Daylighting Design Method. The method has been incorporated into major textbooks on environmental controls.

The Lighting Lab that Millet established and has run since 1977 at the UW was selected as one of ten regional centers in the Daylighting Network of North American in 1985. It is used by students in all departments in the College to test out their design work. The Lab, initiated with seed funds from the architecture department, provides an artificial sky for physical model studies under the overcast sky and a "sun gun" for sunlighting and shading studies. Electrical lighting fixtures can be simulated and a wide selection of lamps are used for demonstrations and full-scale mock-ups.

"My teaching provides opportunities to integrate knowledge gained from my research, field studies, and creative practice in lighting design," notes Millet. "I am continuously upgrading and improving my teaching as a result of information gained through these pursuits. The documentation of real buildings and projects, paired with my own design knowledge, enriches my teaching. In turn, the clarity gained from presenting material in a teaching setting enriches my abilities as a designer and researcher."

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