Circles Over a Campus Quad
Landscape installation creates an inviting gathering spot
On the beautiful University of Chicago campus, officials wanted to transform a campus open space that had been left over after construction of a library in the mid-1980s. Unlike other quads on the campus, the space had long just been a pass-through for students; it never had a distinguishing feature or character.
Working with the university’s Offices of the President and Facilities Services, landscape architecture firm Jacobs/Ryan Associates conceived creating a 40-foot square plaza with a focal point feature that would be visible from afar.
After several discussions with the university, the process revealed a desire for a custom light feature by suspending two metal, structural circles of LED lighting over the plaza — providing both illumination and drama.
Jacobs/Ryan Associates turned to Primera Engineers to design and specify the components needed to incorporate lighting into the circles.
The Design Challenge
The challenge for Primera was selecting a fixture that would meet many requirements.
“It needed to bend on the side and have a slim profile, as well as allow easy access for maintenance,” says Deborah Steimel-Clair, Lighting Studio Manager at the firm. “It also needed to be a fixture that could be viewed directly and meet the university’s requirements for pathway illumination without additional lights. Finally, it had to be robust enough to withstand Chicago winters.”
“The university is very happy, and I am delighted with the results. It is really fun to watch the curiosity in students’ faces and see them enjoy the space.”
– Terry Warriner Ryan, Partner, Landscape Architect, Jacobs/Ryan Associates
Though Primera was familiar with Plexineon, Steimel-Clair and her team had never used the fixtures before. Now was their chance. “I knew Plexineon could do everything we were looking for,” she says.
Outfitting the two concentric circles — one measuring 15 feet in diameter and the other 29 foot, 10 inches — required coordination with iLight. “They were great at providing shop drawings and coordinating with several different entities to make sure all details got hammered out before anything was built,” Steimel-Clair says.
The front-end planning paid off during installation. “Because of all that planning and tracking, it fit together much more smoothly than a lot of other projects.”
The Plexineon Advantage
The result is a stunning outdoor landscape application. Suspended from four posts with catenary cables, the “circles of light” are a focal point in the quad, which also features a plaza with pavers, a surrounding circle of trees, a circular plant bed, custom benches, various walkways with new lighting, and two side perennial gardens.
“The university is very happy, and I am delighted with the results. It is really fun to watch the curiosity in students’ faces and see them enjoy the space,” says Terry Warriner Ryan, Landscape Architect and Partner at Jacobs/Ryan Associates.
Steimel-Clair agrees that Plexineon did not disappoint. “This project had very specific needs, and this product met every one,” she says. “It was really the perfect fixture for this application.” In fact, she’s looking forward to using Plexineon soon in another application.
“We’ve already specified it on another project,” she says. “We absolutely plan to use Plexineon again.”
University of Chicago Circles of Light
University of Chicago
PRIME CONSULTANT ND LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT
LIGHTING DESIGN AND ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING
Primera Engineers, Ltd.
Rubinos & Mesia, Maglin.
Plexineon 2X 3500K
137 LF (42 m)