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Means and Waterways: Lighting a Ferry Terminal

Lighting is beautifully integrated into the architecture of a Ferry Terminal in this latest blog post from Randall Whitehead, the Lighting Doctor. 

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the lighting doctor, ferry terminal
The Lighting Doctor assesses the lighting in a Seattle ferry terminal.

On a recent visit to Seattle, I was greatly impressed by the new ferry terminal, designed by NBBJ Architects. It is a 20,000-square-foot space that is surprisingly warm and inviting. Part of this comes from the surfaces selected, but also from the lighting that is so beautifully integrated into the architecture. I would call the architecture elegantly minimalist. I was drawn to the intriguing combination of perforated metal panels, orange lacquered walls and wood ceilings. Even though the pedestrian corridors are open to the elements, the very broad roof protects people from rain and bright sun.

the lighting doctor ferry lighting

The lighting, designed by Dark Light Design is outstanding. I like how the brightest illumination is in the passenger waiting area so that people subconsciously are drawn through the building to the termination spot. We are drawn to light, like moths are drawn to flame.

What makes their design so special is that there is so much soft indirect lighting which is not typical of this kind of public space. There is no glare. Just glow.

the lighting doctor ferry lighting

I learned that the lighting designers calibrated the light levels to meet federal agency requirements for security lighting without sacrificing the aesthetic integrity of the overall design. That is a tough criterion. They also achieved this, using 16% less energy than what was allotted by code. They also paid special attention to prevent light from overflowing into the adjacent maritime habitat to help safeguard the natural environment. 

the lighting doctor ferry lighting

Here are the main stairs. They are flanked by vertical columns of back-lit acrylic. They subtly tell passengers where to go.

the lighting doctor ferry lighting

Take a look at the main staircase from above. Do you see how evenly the steps are illuminated? The lighting is integrated into the handrails.

the lighting doctor ferry lighting

The Lighting designers were not afraid to mix color temperatures. The perforated metal walls have vertical inset linear lighting in a 4000K, while the wood ceiling is lit with 3000K indirect illumination.

It was surprising to learn that approximately 9 million people travel by ferry each year. The wide open pedestrian walkways and glassed-in waiting area offer up incredible views of the bustling waterfront and Olympic mountains.

I say- Job well done.

*All photos courtesy of Randall Whitehead, the Lighting Doctor

Randall Whitehead headshot

Randall Whitehead is an educator and author on the subject of lighting design. His work has been featured in many magazines, including Architectural Digest, Home & Garden and Esquire. He has appeared as a guest expert on HGTV, Discovery, CNN and Martha Stewart Living Radio.

His Latest book Beautiful Light outlines how to create successful and subtly beautiful LED lighting designs for homes and gardens. Available through Amazon and Rutledge Books.

You can see his entertaining 1-minute instructional videos at furniturelightingdecor.com. And you can follow him on Instagram:  @randall.whitehead


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