Light and architecture

Muhammad Al-Rawi

I’ve got a long story this week.
During the weekend, my family and I drove west to a somewhat spread-out town just outside Missouri, Overland Park, KS. My brother got a job at an engineering firm there, and we went with him to help move his stuff. The move was surprisingly quick and painless, but we decided to stayed the entire three-day weekend.
The level of boredom was indescribable. I had nothing to do, no where to go. On Sunday morning, my father took me to Johnson County Community College. He teaches there in what I believe is the newest building on campus. It shared an entirely glass wall/ceiling lobby with The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s architecture was simply amazing. The first thing I thought of was a video I’d seen a while back called The Third & The Seventh.
Windows, literally, were everywhere, even the classrooms and offices have entire walls of windows from floor to ceiling. Nearly every light in the building was off; there was no need for them to be on. Streaks of light from the third floor  hit the ground floor stairwell.
It didn’t feel like an educational building at all. There was so much glass; everything was bright. There was something uplifting about walking throughout the building; it filled me with some kind of optimism.
I remember the first time I walked through Rock Bridge, amazed by places like the atrium and the main commons. They were giant holes of soft, natural illumination, places where the eye could take rest from the harsh florescent light.
Imagine if every classroom was brilliantly lit, it probably wouldn’t feel so bland listening to a teacher talk all hour. The room wouldn’t seem co confining. I wonder if the quality of a student’s education could be dramatically affected by the way his or her learning environment is lit.
By Muhammad Al-Rawi
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