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LIGHTING MONUMENTAL SPACES

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All modern architecture has a mission to occupy itself with the sun. As you can imagine, I use light freely; Light for me is the fundamental basis of architecture. I compose with light. I have not experienced the miracle of faith, but I have often known the miracle of ineffable space.1 — Le Corbusier

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“The final solar event begins as a brilliant streak of setting sun slips through a crack atop the west wall and makes its way into the dark church”2

Since the beginning of architecture, light has played an important role. The effects from the sun alone carry with it power and restoration. Our bodies need the sun to rejuvinate us and the sun can be used to generate electricity. Outdoors, natural light is optimized and we search for shadow and shade to cover us. Indoors, natural light is searched for and shadow is not always embrace. Natural and artificial light both play a vital role in monumental spaces today. Le Corbusier ‘s treatment of light creates moods of enchantment constructed in procession spaces activate and emotionally charge it. Corbusier’s spaces capture light and shape the surrounding conditions such as concrete walls, floors and objects that occupy the space as the hours and seasons change. Corbusier used light within a space as if it were sacred (every space, not just religious) in order to give a certain visual power to the space. LEFT MONESTERY OF LIGHT Monastery of Sainte Marie De la Tourette Eveux-sur-l’Arbesle, France Le Corbusier 1953-60 Additional wash of a golden light from a window slit in the sacramental chapel.3

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MONUMENT Cénotaphe à Newton Étienne-Louis Boullée 1784 Drawing of Memorial to Newton1

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“…I blamed my own impudence for parting with so substantial a blessing to run after a shadow...4” -Sir Isaac Newton

“the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, let there be light: and there was light. And God saw that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”5 Newton in the quote above is saying that Newton took light for granted and would want to get out of it and enter the shadow. He is describing that God created light that is good and darkness is bad. This could be why in our very human nature we feel comfortable in the light and uncomfortable in th dark. In relation to the Centograph Boullee made this monument to Newton. The monument incorperates extreme lightness and extreme darkness to express both life and death. Étienne-Louis Boullée was one of the great dreamers when it came to monumental design theory, as well as, the use of light and shadow.

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LIBRARY Deuxieme projet pour la Bibliothèque du Roi, France Étienne-Louis Boullée 1785 Drawing of Interor of Royal Library2

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Boullee’s ideas stemmed from monuments at a colossal scale, buildings partially submerged into the ground, and light and shadow.6 Boullée knew that if light and shadow were held as equals together they would have the ability to affect any person’s mood. If Boullée were to achieve a monumental architecture full of light, he would need to provide darkness. Dark spaces would briefly grab your attention to make you think about “your deepest fears of oblivion and infinite nothingness.”7 Boullee was immensely intrigued by the architecture of death, which is still influencing modern architecture today. “In darkness the earth was a void – light is the giver of form.”8 - Étienne-Louis Boullée

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LEFT CHAPEL OF LIGHT Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut Ronchamp, France Le Corbusier 1950-55 Facing. Inflection of pews toward the rupture of light3

Corbusier’s religious spaces are magnificent and filled with light. Corbew was always able to draw connections between the light and the spirit, although he is not religious himself. In Ronchamp, the gap at the top makes the roof appear like it’s floating because the light enters through the gap. The variety of colors draws out specific moods in people based off simple color theories. Corbusier knew that in the church to Christianity light is the place where God dwells, as well as where the spirit. The most prominent link is the link that light creates between heaven and earth. Light to Corbusier was used not as a spotlight, but to glorify something like liturgical spaces or activities, or to show a supernatural force. The light was not to be so intense that it would take away from the events within the space, but instead improve it. The light is guided into the building acting as a direct miracle. Meaning, the building is an object that munipulates light into moments. These moments change and fluctuate, when in a well designed space the light seems once in a lifetime. At one moment the building is dead then the next minute it’s alive with energy. Light becomes more miraculous within an interior when depth, well lit corners and dark corners are created. Just like the variety of colors, the variety of light and dark pulls out different moods within us.

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“Structure is the giver of light”9 -Louis Kahn

LEFT MONESTERY OF LIGHT Monastery of Sainte Marie De la Tourette Eveux-sur-l’Arbesle, France Le Corbusier 1953-60 Side view of crucifix and multifold sunbeam4

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[left] Upward view at climax of sunset as golden light grazes over the concrete ceiling.5 [top right]View looking northwest in the church with sun streaking along north wall.6 [right]View looking east as solar line bends around the far end wall.7

Corbusier believed that light could bring temporary suspension to space and time, something we hold close to our hearts by the quality of light. Corbusier’s light would fracture forms and alter the way humans experience the world by exposing conventions of beauty. Thus, we relate personally to each of his created light filled spaces as a place made for us.10 This is difficult to explain because each person physically experience space differently. But as an event within a space a person can relate to it more personally by drawing his or her own conclusions. 14


“the final blessing of the nave�

In these images, the light piercing the nave appears from a small triangle in winter and a huge rectangle in summer, but both become full while the sun reaches its highest intensity in the midafternoon.11

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Loius Kahn standing in auditorium.8

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Silence to Light Light to Silence The threshold of their crossing is the Singularity is inspiration (Where the desire to express meets the possible) is the Sanctuary of Art Is the Treasury of the Shadows (Material casts shadows shadows become light)12 -Louis Kahn

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KIMBELL ART MUSEUM Fort Worth, TX Louis Kahn Natural Light pouring into the art space before light fixtures were added.9 However, the light fixtures added were crucial to reflecting light up and in to flow gently down the rounded ceiling.

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Louis Kahn’s theory of light was slighty negative when referring to artificial light. Thus, saying: “artificial light is a static light…where natural light is a light of mood.”13 Thus, static light has only one character depending on what bulb is used. Natural light has more than one character and changes day to day. Sometimes in a space you might view an object one way in a certain natural light and the next moment it will be a different mood than before because of the light.14 Furthermore, artificial light has a certain mood and everyday is changing for the better due to the L.E.D light.

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[above] Interior view of Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.10 [left] Study sketch by Norman Foster of Sainsbury Center.11

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Museum lighting should be designed specifically to meet the requirements of what will be housed in the museum. However, the overall lighting levels should be flexible to meet rearrangement of the pieces. A visitor to a museum typically is not allowed to touch the pieces so the visual connection needs to be strong enough to make the visitor feel comfortable as if they are touching the object. Each object requires a certain level of shadow. The shadow is created from the object and gives it depth which then gives it a level of understanding and perception through height, width, color and reflection. In Sainsbury Center, Norman Foster was aware of the positive impacts of natural day lighting, but it must be controlled as well as the need for static artificial lighting. Combining the two technologies in this project turned out beautifully. The two lighting techniques did not blur together in a “well-light mess” and are comparable to Kahn’s view of light. For example, the natural light entering in above the artificial light is blue acting as shadow while the artificial light was yellow identifying it as the true light source.

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YALE CENTER FOR BRITISH ART Loius Kahn “I was brought up when the sunlight was yellow, and the shadow was blue. But I see it clearly as being white light, and black shadow. Yet this is nothing alarming, because I believe that there will come a fresh yellow, and beautiful blue, and that the revolution will bring forth a new sense of wonder.�15 -Louis Kahn

The yellow sun light entering the skylights comes through the white frosted glass to cast deep shadows. The light contrasts the darker grey concrete beams creating blue shadows.16 The artificial light fixtures were specifically chosen in this space to act more as task lighting. With direct lighting there is less light pollution to destroythe gentle natural light entering the space. YALE CENTER FOR BRITISH ART Loius Kahn Interior of Library12

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A type of monument lighting example can be a memorial. A memorial is meant to commemorate the past and to serve as a place for contemplation.17 The lighting should express the powerful monumental gestures through color and contrast while providing the visitor with the atmosphere of meditation. Just light Kahn uses in Yale Center for British Art with the combination of artificial and natural light keep in mind light pollution. The light should not overpower the object or space, nor reflect heavily or at all in order to achieve good visual comfort.18 Meaning, the light is not overpowering or to dark allowing a person to meditate or reflect comfortably in and around the monument.

AIR FORCE MEMORIAL13 Washington, D.C

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St. John’s Abbey Collegeville, Minnesota Marcel Breuer Exterior view14

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Marcel Breuer uses light in monumental ways at St. John’s Abbey. Located outside the church is a monumental bell tower thought to be symbol and sign for the church and school, but also thought to have the ability to reflect light into the main (north) façade of the church. The light does enter in a large glazed façade of stained glass windows that is also the entrance to the church. This space is monumental not just by its shear size and 112 foot tall banner tower, but because of its play of light. The multiple colors of the north faced that the light draws in and how every light opening pulls your eyes to specific understandings, surfaces and locations. St. John’s Abbey Collegeville, Minnesota Marcel Breuer Front Exterior view15

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Front door of St. John’s Abbey5

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Interior view of stained glass facade16

When entering the church natural light floods into the space from behind while a person slowly enters a slightly darker nave. Ahead a person can see the-alter, as if being pulled down the narrow isle towards it. Still heading towards the alter, in the middle isle a person is guided by light drifting down both sidewalls creating an artificial guide wall. Think back to Corbusier’s use of light and color. Breuer impliments the same understandings and uses here.

Interior view of stained glass facade17

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CHURCH OF LIGHT Church or Saint-Pierre Firminy-Vert, France Le Corbusier 1960-2006 Tracing of waves along the floor18

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“billowing streaks of light…wave after wave invades the darkness, tracing lines that gently rise and fall, as they pass through the air and intermingle with one another.”19 -Le Corbusier

[top right] Bent Light on wall19 [bottom right] Bent Light on northwest corner20 [left] pin-holes21

In Corbusier’s Chruch of Light, waves of light appear in late morning. It’s a lighting phenomenon, a person in the space does not know where the light comes from. A person gets feeling that the light feels spiritual and mysterious.20 √The duration and motion are unpredictable only the feeling that it is not of this earthly, but not typical to buildings. The light enters one façade through several small holes. The light pieces the holes and is then bent as if you were looking through a pinhole and the object on the other side becomes warped. 29


I now would like to discuss two more case studies and then move on finally to a thesis project I worked. I developed my project through my research expressed in this graphic essay as well as these next two readings: Books in Space: Tradition and Transparency in the Bibliotheque de France and The Art of Space in Marcel Breuer: Sun and Shadow. Dominique Perrault designed the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Perrault seems to have studied Le Corbusier’s fifties and sixties method of urbanism. 21 This theory involves several buildings that are identical in shape, containing each a separate function, elevated on plinths that are separated by vast streets and pedestrian bridges that connect each plinth to the other.22 Corbusier’s methods wanted to take modern chaos and turn it into order. Perrault’s Bibliotheque is similar as simple form and order rise out of a chaotic city context. Perrault’s bibliotheque is located near the river and elevated on an approximant thirty foot tall plinth with four tall glass towers on each corner that house the libraries book collections. The building does not look like a typical library nor does it connect itself to the city in the normal way. Meaning, the buildings are taller than surrounding buildings and ave contrasting materials. The library seems to be elevated to create its own place, not easily accessible. The plinth seems to be there for protection that houses rare and precious books that cannot be easily taken or accessed by the public. The librarians are the only ones that access the books in the towers at a users request.

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[above] View from ontop of plinth overlooking the central courtyard and two of the towers of Bibliothequ De France22 [right] competition entry photomontage by Dominique Perrault23

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In Perrault’s mind he believed he created not a building, not a monument, not an object within a space, but just a space. His space does not look like a library.23 Even though it does not look like a library it still achieves monumentality as it towers over the surround city context. The towers therefore act as counter monuments that appear and disappear with the sky and reflecting city. A counter monument is a monument that goes “against the grain” of its environment or typical ways of designing a monumental object or space. This argument is another way to look at ways to achieve monumentality. The plinth creates an oasis elevated above the surrounding buildings keeping you separated yet attached because of the views to and from the city. The atmosphere at the Bibliotheque de France felt by a person could be the same atmosphere felt by a book stowed away in one of the towers. Both can view the surrounding context but are trapped in their own oasis. He uses light to create transparency and thiness with the towers. In the reading rooms he also uses glass to pull in as much natural light as possible often reflected off of the towers.

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[above] View of reading areas around central courtyard of Bibliotheque De France24 [right] view of Bibliotheque town from far corner25


“multiply reflections, amplify the shadows; absolute magic of the diffraction of light across the crystalline prisms…defining a virtual volume that crystallizes all its magic, all its poetry.”24 -Dominique Perrault 33


[right] side elevation view of Fulton County Central Library. View no longer exists.26

“we see continuities. We no longer see individual columns as finished, independent, aesthetic compositions…” -Marcel Breuer

The interiors thesis project I recently completed takes hold of the Fulton County Central Library designed by Marcel Breuer. It is keen to discuss his thoughts on space, the organization of space and a building, the FCC Library and it relevance to my thesis project. In Marcel Breuer: Sun and Shadow, Breuer is trying to argue that a modern building’s space is hollow, empty and never complete. A building’s space is connected from one room to another yet not ever isolated. Each space is defined within its connection to other spaces that are all connected as a whole.25 The FCCL has limited windows and natural light is very limited withn the library, but artificial light is abundant.

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The FCC proposed design is a series of book-wells, three to be exact. The book wells are intended to contrast the shape of the building, the condensed floor to ceiling height nature, as well as the material palette of the building. The book-wells are to be monumental throught their use of light and materials. The design initially began with placing rectangular masses within the building located in front of the south, east and north facing windows. The rectangular masses where divided with openings to allow patrons to access the interior of the book-wells, as well as opening it up for thoroughfares and views. The rectangular shape of the book-wells still did not contrast the “pancake� type floor plate but rather complimented it. In the places where openings were located bands of shelves remained at the top of each opening. By doing this it transformed the shape from a horizontal-like geometry to a vertical-like geometry. The geometries still were too similar to the FCCL form. By taking into account the important views from parts of the library, as well as, opportunities to see the windows and reading spaces this gave way to the new form of the book-wells.

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[top]: square book-well with shelving bands28

[below]: triangle shaped book-wells with bands removed29

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The book-wells became more angled and sharp appearing complex and objectified within the over all square-ness of the building. It’s objectified because the wells are now aimed at being objects that are inserted within the building rather than placed. The contrasting form, materials and book shelving techiques allow it to be more memorable and unique. The book-wells push the boundaries of counter monumentalism. The library with its modern architecture design and contemporary use of storing books along with material choices can push it towards a monumental direction as a whole.

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[top]: interior view of main stairs at FCCL looking towards book-well one on third floor30 [left]: diagrams showing how each level of the book-well is shaped and formed31

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Physical Model at 1/8� of book-well one showing the book-well as an object32

Thus, Breuer’s idea of space comes true. The continuity of connection on each floor of the library meshes and seems to create one space.26 The book-wells look continuous like columns, but each individually creates am aesthetic contrast to the surrounding library spaces. The prismatic shape gives each of the book-wells a combined poetry that speaks a monumental phrase of establishment within the libraries core.

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Bent Light on northwall in the “Church of Light by Le Corbusier32

In order to create a monumental space one must design with light. Like Le Corbusier, Kahn and Breuer the use of natural light should not take away from the space but add to it. Articifial light, although static can improve a space in the same ways natural light can but it can not touch an individual in the ways natural light can, but it can aslo be bad, indifferent and good. Color also adds quality affecting moods and levels of depth that each color is perceived differently by the eye. Shadows compliment the light of a monumental space, showing what a space would be without light so when light is viewed next to shadow it’s refreshing. Light and shadows ability to pull out emoitions deep within us is powerful and helps complete the space. Monumental spaces and even counter monumental spaces like Perrault’s Biblitheque use its context and the most important of all, the sun to help the design acheive itself. Meaning, light not only gives us the ability to see the monumental object or space but the depth perception to be able to feel it, touch it, experience it and connect to it. Without light a monumental space would not exist.

“light is the key to well-being”27 — Le Corbusier

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WORKS CITED Text 1. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. 2. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 118) 3. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 118) 4. Karlen, Mark, and James Benya. 2004. Lighting design basics. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley. (p.19) 5. Heathcote, Edwin. 1999. Monument builders: modern architecture and death. Chichester, West Sussex: Academy Editions. (p. 21) 6. Heathcote, Edwin. 1999. Monument builders: modern architecture and death. Chichester, West Sussex: Academy Editions. (p. 21) 7. Heathcote, Edwin. 1999. Monument builders: modern architecture and death. Chichester, West Sussex: Academy Editions. (p. 21) 8. Heathcote, Edwin. 1999. Monument builders: modern architecture and death. Chichester, West Sussex: Academy Editions. (p. 21) 9. Kahn, Louis I., and Nell E. Johnson. 1975. Light is the theme: Louis I. Kahn and the Kimbell Art Museum : comments on architecture. Fort Worth, Tex: Kimbell Art Foundation. (p. 21) 10. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 14) 11. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 118) 12. Kahn, Louis I., and Nell E. Johnson. 1975. Light is the theme: Louis I. Kahn and the Kimbell Art Museum : comments on architecture. Fort Worth, Tex: Kimbell Art Foundation. (p. 11) 13. Kahn, Louis I., and Nell E. Johnson. 1975. Light is the theme: Louis I. Kahn and the Kimbell Art Museum : comments on architecture. Fort Worth, Tex: Kimbell Art Foundation. (p. 17) 14. Kahn, Louis I., and Nell E. Johnson. 1975. Light is the theme: Louis I. Kahn and the Kimbell Art Museum : comments on architecture. Fort Worth, Tex: Kimbell Art Foundation. (p. 17) 15. Cadwell, Michael. Strange details. Cambridge, Mass: 2007 MIT Press. (p. 142) 16. Cadwell, Mike. Strange details. Cambridge, Mass: 2007 MIT Press. (p. 165-68) 17. “the art of illuminating monuments.” Insite. no. 04 (2012): 17. http://www.insiteindia.in/2012/april/contents.html (accessed June 22, 2013). 18. “the art of illuminating monuments.” Insite. no. 04 (2012): 17. http://www.insiteindia.in/2012/april/contents.html (accessed June 22, 2013). 44


19. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 134) 20. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 134) 21. Vidler, Anthony. “Books In Space: Tradition And Transparency In The Bibliotheque De France.” Representations 42, no. 1 (1993): 115. 22. Vidler, Anthony. “Books In Space: Tradition And Transparency In The Bibliotheque De France.” Representations 42, no. 1 (1993): 118. 23. Vidler, Anthony. “Books In Space: Tradition And Transparency In The Bibliotheque De France.” Representations 42, no. 1 (1993): 119-20. 24. Vidler, Anthony. “Books In Space: Tradition And Transparency In The Bibliotheque De France.” Representations 42, no. 1 (1993): 119. 25. Breuer, Marcel, and Peter Blake. 1955. Sun and shadow, the philosophy of an architect. New York: Dodd, Mead. 61-64 26. Breuer, Marcel, and Peter Blake. 1955. Sun and shadow, the philosophy of an architect. New York: Dodd, Mead. 61 27. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. xi) CREDITS Photos 1. Louvre, “Boullée, Etienne-Louis.” Last modified May 13, 2013. Accessed June 20, 2013. http://mini-site.louvre.fr/saison18e/ en/antiquite_revee/ar43.html. 2. Wikipedia, “Étienne-Louis Boullée.” Last modified June 8, 2013. Accessed June 20, 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Étienne-Louis_Boullée. 3. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 39) 4. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 101) 5. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 121) 6. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 118) 7. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 118) 8. Kahn, Louis I., and Nell E. Johnson. 1975. Light is the theme: Louis I. Kahn and the Kimbell Art Museum : comments on architecture. Fort Worth, Tex: Kimbell Art Foundation. (p. 38) 9. Kahn, Louis I., and Nell E. Johnson. 1975. Light is the theme: Louis I. Kahn and the Kimbell Art Museum : comments on architecture. Fort Worth, Tex: Kimbell Art Foundation. (p. 39) 10. “Category:Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts - Wikimedia Commons.” Wikimedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia. org/wiki/Category:Sainsbury_Centre_for_Visual_Arts (accessed July 31, 2013). 45


11. Foster Partners, “Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts .” Last modified May 14, 2013. Accessed June 20, 2013. http://www. fosterandpartners.com/projects/sainsbury-centre-for-visual-arts/gallery/. 12. Cadwell, Mike. 2007. Strange details. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. (p. 170) 13. Wikipedia, “United States Air Force Memorial.” Last modified May 6, 2013. Accessed June 20, 2013. http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/File:Air_Force_Memorial_at_NightEdit_1.jpg. 14. Blake, Peter. 1949. Marcel Breuer, architect and designer. (p. 404-5) 15. Photo: Avery, Tanner 16. Photo: Avery, Tanner 17. Photo: Schultz, Chloe 18. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 135) 19. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 135) 20. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 137) 21. “SAINT-PIERRE DE FIRMINY.” MATTER. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 July 2013. http://www.mattermatters.com/blog.asp?id=238. 22. Yuri, Palmin. “AD Classics: National Library of France / Dominique Perrault” 12 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. http://www. archdaily.com/103592 (Accessed 31 Jul 2013). 23. Vidler, Anthony. “Books In Space: Tradition And Transparency In The Bibliotheque De France.” Representations 42, no. 1 (1993): 120. 24. Yuri, Palmin. “AD Classics: National Library of France / Dominique Perrault” 12 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. http://www. archdaily.com/103592 (Accessed 31 Jul 2013). 25. Yuri, Palmin. “AD Classics: National Library of France / Dominique Perrault” 12 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. http://www. archdaily.com/103592 (Accessed 31 Jul 2013). 26. “Breuer-Designed Atlanta Central Library Endangered | docomomo united states.” Welcome | docomomo united states. http://www.docomomo-us.org/news/breuerdesigned_atlanta_central_library_endangered (accessed July 31, 2013). 28-31. Zimmerman, Ryan 32. Plummer, Henry, and Le Corbusier. 2013. Cosmos of light: the sacred architecture of Le Corbusier. (p. 135)

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Graphic Essay by: Ryan Zimmerman, 5th Year Interior Architecture and Architecture

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Interior Thesis Summer 2013  

Graphic Essay of Research in Lighting Monumental Spaces for Auburn University Thesis Summer 2013

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