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Lighting Takes Center Stage


Sustainability goals integrate with sophisticated lighting systems.

Any development or construction endeavor within the Marion School District in Marion, AR, begins with a rigorous sustainability investigation to ensure the project will adhere to its strict 30-yr.-outlook strategy, a benchmark to ensure that any commissioned project sustain itself for at least 30 yr. They live by the motto “do it right the first time, make it last, and leave a sustainable legacy.”

The District has been recognized for employing sustainable technologies such as geothermal heating and cooling. When it came time to plan for the development of the Marion Performing Arts Center, it was no surprise that the indoor and outdoor lighting design would find itself on center stage.

The lighting-design team faced three critical challenges:

  • Environmental. An Energy-Star rating was non-negotiable.
  • Performance. The nature of the facility demanded a high-lumen package that would offer precise control of LED lighting throughout the entire building.
  • Maintenance. The lighting solution had to prove it would reduce the time and effort needed from maintenance operations.

COPYRIGHT_CAM: Published on https://www.commercialarchitecturemagazine.com/lighting-takes-center-stage/ by - on 2022-10-13T22:45:12.198Z

A well-lit office with people working and talking at the tables
A well-lit office with people working and talking at the tables

Sustainability And Performance

When it opened in January 2016, the performing arts center, a 916-seat, 8,000-sq-ft. building with a 45-ft. stage and professional-grade sound system, was christened a success. It is a stunning facility that makes a statement from the inside and the outside.

It can be seen from highway I55, making it a beacon for the city. While it is on the grounds of Marion Junior High School, it serves as a primary destination for the community and district at large, playing host to various music acts, Broadway shows, and dance performances.

Marion Junior High School is Energy-Star certified. Even though the Performing Arts Center called for a more sophisticated lighting solution, sustainability goals would not be compromised.

The lighting team of Hubbell Lighting, Greenville, SC; PKM Architects, West Memphis, AR; Canup Engineering, Bartlett, TN; and Spectrum Lighting & Controls, Germantown, TN, compiled a selection of lighting products that would achieve the light-management, performance, and flexibility needs of the center.

Blending in naturally with the architectural environment of the center would be critical, and the team selected specific lighting products that would complement the creative design ambitions while meeting strict sustainability goals.

One of these unique challenges included the “floating ceiling clouds” in the main auditorium, which dictated the luminaires be spaced further apart than typically done in auditoriums of this size. To minimize any distraction from the design, the team chose to use Prescolite’s MC10LED Megalum cylinder, designed for ceiling heights from 20 to 60 ft. and allowing the team to space each luminaire further apart than normal.

The Megalum is a high-lumen LED product, available in downlights and cylinders with an array of mounting options. This was the first time it was used in a large-scale auditorium application. The performance of the Megalum ensured the proper 30 footcandle level could be achieved.

To complement the 12,000-lumen Megalum’s work in the main seating area, the team decided to continue with the spacing advantage it offered and used the 6,000-lumen fixture in the perimeter and rear auditorium aisles.

The ability to dim with precision was another design criteria. Since this is an auditorium, the fixtures were specified with the 2DM Lutron 2-wire, 1% dimming option. Megalum has simplified control by offering dimming systems compatible with a variety of architectural control systems and/or entertainment consoles for new construction and retrofit applications.


The lighting solution provided benefits to the Performing Arts Center including:

  • The quality of the light is enhanced through performance and control. The operator has precise control to use light where, how, and when he wants it, inside and outside of the building.
  • All of the luminaires in the solution complement, rather than compete with, the macro-architectural design of the facility. This was accomplished without any sacrifice to the strict sustainability goals.
  • The solution features reliable luminaires that are designed to increase the safety and security of the patrons that visit the facility.
  • Every luminaire specified in the project is an energy-saving LED that, when combined with reduced labor and maintenance costs, will provide the center with a significant return on investment. The complete lighting solution will reduce energy use and lifetime cost of ownership, a critical component to meeting the 30-yr. objective of the district.
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