GateWay Community College

The Integrated Education Building is the latest addition to the GateWay Community College campus. At night, the building becomes a dynamic landmark.

The GateWay Community College is a small campus located between Phoenix and Tempe in Arizona. To invigorate its campus life, GateWay hired the architecture firm SmithGroupJJR to create the Integrated Education building (IEB), a "multi-purpose academic city" that contains classrooms, offices, art studios, labs, a library, a café, counselling services, and a performance space. Its many open-air, loungy spaces also bring the students together.

Up close, the IEB reveals a complex, textured environment that stems from SmithGroupJJR's "layered transparency" approach. They used a variety of materials (masonry, glass, galvanized metal and copper) to both invite natural light and offer adequate shading during the day. At night, "the building reverses itself; the lighting unifies spaces that would otherwise look completely different," observes SmithGroupJJR's Lighting Design Studio Leader Rodrigo Manriquez.

The performance space is located inside the rounded bookend of the modern building. Its exterior is slashed with horizontal "scratches of light" that slowly crawl across the curved façade. "It becomes a billboard, not only as a destination within the campus, but as a landmark of the building towards the community," Manriquez reports. "We used technology to show dynamic movement, to express technology and dynamic learning on the inside of the building."

The slashes of light were created using DMX-controlled Lumencove XT fixtures. "We're simply creating movement by dimming white light," SmithGroupJJR Lighting Designer Luke Renwick explains. "A lot of what you see in dynamic controls of LED is just color change, but we were able to take a product and utilize controls to dim light and create movement. It was really key to establish that design."

Versatile controls were an important consideration in choosing LED. The scratches Manriquez and Renwick wanted to create had to be constant but ever-changing. In all, the Lumencove XT fixtures run through 10 different themes that start and stop at different points every night.

Durability was also vital since the fixtures must be able to withstand extreme desert temperatures and sandstorms. "Lumenpulse's IP rating is important because we know the exact testing procedure that [the fixtures] have to go through," says Renwick. "Solids and liquids being kept out of the products was a deal-maker for us."

The fixture's form factor ultimately swayed Manriquez and Renwick. "We didn't have much space on that ledge; we had to build a detail around the fixture to make it work," Renwick recalls. "We didn't want to have remote ballasts. Just the way the façade is constructed, it made more sense to have everything within the fixture package."

"The architect labels the project a marriage of lighting treatment with the architectural treatment of materials," says Manriquez. "Every turn, whether outside or in, is modified through lighting."

But what really matters is how the students react to it, because that's who the IEB is designed for. "It's the overall experience; what you take away from a space knowing nothing about architecture," Manriquez concludes, and in that respect, "the general population is very appreciative."

The whole GateWay campus is moving forward, and the IEB proves it.

Equipment Specified
384 x Lumencove XT (1', 3000K)

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Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Market: Arts + Culture
Architect: SmithGroupJJR
Photographer: Liam Frederick

It becomes a billboard, not only as a destination within the campus, but as a landmark of the building towards the community.

Rodrigo Manriquez