Fifth avenue in New York

Lighting is an integral part of the architectural and interior design development of a project, that adds a new dimension to a building. A lighting designer can play a major role in enhancing the architecture in an artistic way.

'A lighting designer brings in an artistic eye - different from whatan engineer would do. He can create a lighting design with sparkle, drama and theatre, yet it will be functional, practical and easy to use and maintain,' says Theo Kondos, director of Kondos Roberts, one of the world's leading lighting consultants.

Based in New York and London, Kondos Roberts offers an internationally-based independent lighting design service. The company brings together the artistic flair of T Kondos Associates with the sound and innovative engineering skills of Roberts & Partners.

T Kondos Associates was founded in 1977 by Theo Kondos, a lighting designer known internationally for his creativity and technical expertise.

Roberts and Partners is a multi-disciplinary building services consultancy with more than 16 years experience.

'We are currently focusing on the Middle East region and we plan to open an office in Dubai to cater exclusively to Middle Eastern clients,'' says Kondos.

'All over the world, Kondos Roberts knows the markets, manufacturers, lamps, sources and the people. We work closely with architects and developers and also with manufacturers' engineers developing new luminaire designs,' says Ian Giles, company managing director. 'We have modified designs to provide better, more efficient luminaires and lighting systems.

'We blend technical expertise with aesthetic demands to give lighting effects that are exciting, soundly engineered and cost-effective,' he adds.

Kondos continues: 'It takes many disciplines to bring a project together. If you want your project to stand out, it is not enough to have a good-looking building. If not lit correctly, it is a waste of money. A lighting designer, with the ability to co-ordinate the lighting of the landscape, graphics and interior design can create spectacular results and help ensure the success of a project.''

On when a lighting designer should get involved in a project, he says: 'A lighting designer should come in when a project is ready to begin design development. If brought in after design development, we end up spending additional money. Once the steel is brought in, we have to compromise on design.

'Basically lighting designers have four tools - condensate or ordinary lamps; fluorescent lamps; high intensity lamps; and neon lamps - in different colours. What is important is how you take these tools and make them work for each project. As a design firm, we take these tools and put in different pieces of equipment.

''A few years ago, it was not possible to design outdoor theatrical lighting. We now have equipment to do stage lighting outdoors. Lamp manufacturers are also helping by offering the ability to change wattages and lamp sources.

''In addition, today manufacturers are giving better quality and lower wattage lamps,'' he adds.

'A lighting designer can paint with lights. Anyone can do lighting design but not everyone can paint with it and take lighting to a higher level. Our design philosophy is that lighting should not only be trendy but also timeless, and should last in style. Keep the design simple, if you complicate it people will ignore it.

'The majority of our projects use standard equipment, yet remain cutting edge. This advanced attitude has led to Kondos Roberts being retained by multi-national organisations. We work within budget to give exceptional designs. We use light fixtures that are easily available locally.

''This applies whether the project is an airport, a shopping centre, landmark building, department store, hotel, hospital, corporate office, school, residence, or an entertainment and educational facility,'' Kondos explains.

The company tests all designs using state-of-the-art computerised calculation programmes. 'These graphic predictions are invaluable for visualising the space. They help predict illuminance levels, lighting patterns and glare restrictions. We also use computer modelling techniques to show lighting effects in 3D.

'With over 35 years experience in international design we bring in knowledge from projects all over the world - very few lighting designers have this global overview.

Its current projects include the Taipei Financial Center, believed to be world's tallest building under construction. The company has also developed a lighting package for Al Haram Al Sharif in Jerusalem, considered to be Islam's third holiest shrine.

'We were given the job to light the Dome on the Rock and were given three days to do the design concept,' says Kondos. 'Besides the dome, there are two other mosques and four minarets. It was a difficult task to put light fittings on an old historic building.'

Other prestigious projects completed by the firm include the New York Center in Rio de Janeiro an entertainment centre with a miniature of the Statue of Liberty.

'We have also carried out a project for the Trafford Center in Manchester, UK, which has Italian-style architecture. It is a 3,500 sq m retail shopping and entertainment complex which has a dome in the centre,'' he says.

'The developer of the centre wanted it on the scale of St Peter's Basilica in Rome. Here, it is 10 m taller than the original. The challenge was to bring architecture and lighting together to enhance the style of architecture. On the top, there are four different colours of floodlights. The project is a focal point is the night sky.''

Another of the firm's projects, the CoCo Walk in Miami, Florida offers entertainment, restaurants, clubs, and outdoors dining in a coconut groove. ''This project stands out against time. Built 15 years ago, it is still important and making money for the developers,'' he says.

''Another major project is the Galerias Pacifico Shopping Centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The building is more than 100 years old, built in 1898. After being closed for a long time it was reopened in 1998 as a shopping centre. Its central atrium has frescos in the ceiling.''

Other projects are:

  • Air traffic tower at the Fortworth airport.

  • St Regis Hotel in New York City, a corner building which was required to be made a focal point both from 5th Avenue and 55th Street. Kondos Roberts undertook both interior and exterior lighting designs.

  • Nations Bank Plaza, a glass building in Dallas, a landmark in the skyline where the firm has outlined the shape of the building with neon.

  • Burdines apartment store - the client wanted to give a festive look to the entrance. This project hais said to have one of the best night lighting in Florida.

  • 420 Fifth Avenue in New York;

  • Brooklyn Bridge - where Kondoss Roberts did the museum at the bridge's anchorage.

  • City Airport, Buenos Aires, Argentina.