LIGHTING/Convention center lets there be (natural) light
Over the last decade, urban planners have transformed Chattanooga, Tenn., from a wasteland of empty warehouses and abandoned storefronts to a thriving tourism destination. That transformation has given Chattanooga new status in the convention business world.
To accommodate the increasing amount of convention business and the growing need for exhibition space, the city has begun construction of a $45 million expansion of its convention center. The project, which will triple the size of the facility, also will make it the first meeting facility in the country to feature a design known as “daylighting.”
Daylighting makes use of natural light to illuminate interior spaces. The convention center’s new lighting system will use sunlight filtered through openings in its 30-foot ceilings as the primary lighting source for the new exhibit hall. The building’s artificial lights will supplement the natural light. Special sensors will monitor the brightness of direct and diffused sunlight entering the building and adjust indoor lights accordingly. The more natural light entering the building, the less artificial light will be tapped.
“Research indicates that daylight can boost people’s moods and attentiveness,” says Michael Nicklas, president of Raleigh, N.C.-based Innovative Design, an architectural firm that has used daylighting technology in several North Carolina elementary schools. (Those schools show a 14 percent increase in student performance and a 64 percent decrease in energy costs.) “If daylight can make people more alert, imagine what it can do to improve individual and group performance at a convention or trade show.”
The convention center’s expansion will increase exhibit capacity from 50,000 to 102,000 square feet and banquet space from 10,000 to 18,000 square feet. Meeting space will be increased from 2,600 to 23,000 square feet.