The effect of fluorescent lighting on skyscraper design ...
500 notable buildings from the 10th century to the present
LIGHT, PLAN, FORM
The advent of air conditioning and fluorescent lighting in the 1940s and '50s largely removed daylight from the equation, and led to the construction of skyscrapers with tremendously deep floor plates and unpleasant, artificially lit workspaces. The three projects discussed in this issue—the New York Times' headquarters, the Hearst Tower, and One Bryant Park, all in Manhattan—effectively restore daylight to its rightful place. Together they exemplify a new generation of tall buildings, the product of emerging design trends, architectural and lighting technologies, attitudes toward sustainability, and complexities of building, lighting, and energy codes.
Five Energy Generations of Tall Buildings: A Historical Analysis of Energy Consumption in High Rise Buildings
The First Energy Generation: From the Birth of Tall Buildings in 1885, to the 1916 Zoning Law
Born out of developments in structural steel framing and the invention of the elevator in the mid-19th century, tall buildings quickly spread across North America, becoming the symbol of economic growth and prosperity. The Home Insurance Building, completed in Chicago in 1885, is generally regarded as the first of these high-rises, although debate continues regarding its credentials for this title. We can state that this first generation of tall buildings originally required relatively little operating energy as technologies such as air-conditioning and fluorescent lighting were not yet developed. Energy was predominantly consumed in the heating of occupied spaces and providing vertical transportation between floors. Ventilation was achieved naturally via opening windows and artificial lighting levels were1 very low – typically between 2 and 4 foot-candles in office buildings in 1913 due to the inefficiencies of lighting technologies of the time (Osterhaus, 1993).
"In the 1950s, advances in technology and changes in architectural ideology liberated the tall office building from its dependence on nature and site. Fluorescent lighting and air conditioning were as important to the transformation of post-World War II skyscrapers as were elevator and steel-cage construction to the first tall office buildings of the late nineteenth century" [Willis, 1997]
The paradigm shift from a traditional, solid façade construction with punctured windows, to the new, lightweight glazed curtain wall, had a significant impact on the energy consumption of tall buildings of this period. High rises became hermetically sealed glass boxes, completely reliant on air-conditioning and fluorescent lighting to compensate for overheating, excessive heat loss and poor natural light penetration. These characteristics were only exaggerated by the high number of black skyscrapers constructed at the time. In fact, tall building energy consumption grew dramatically in this period as demonstrated by a study on 86 office buildings constructed in Manhattan between 1950 and 1970 (Stein, 1977).