recently completed: houston’s first baptist church-downtown campus

Though the new downtown campus for Houston’s First Baptist Church started as an outdated union hall, the designers had a mission to transform the eyesore into a vibrant church. The client wanted this campus to stand out visually, describing it early in the design process as ‘a place of light in the city’.

An innovative approach to façade lighting helps the client stand out and simultaneously conserve energy.

A rendering by G2LD, done during the design process, showing the concept of the lines of light on the façade.

Moving from rendering to construction drawings, our documentation shows the mounting locations and aiming angles for each fixture.

The building is highly visible from two major highways and they wanted to leverage that location with a design that would express the church's values as young and modern. The architect's initial thought was to wash the entire building in light, but that idea blended with surroundings and ultimately looked too commercial. G2LD devised the concept of using lines of light for a graphic design on the façade based on the architect's concept of painted lines intersecting across the building's walls and windows. Visually this was one of the defining characteristics of the building during the day, so the concept also carried into night.

To finished project—with careful planning the design team was able to make it appear as if the lines of light wrap the building.

Amber LED grazers detailed into the steel structure surrounding the cross allow the geometries to read, as intended, while disguising the supporting structure behind. Views of the linear light fixtures are almost entirely hidden.

Multi-story lines are created with ultra-narrow-5-degree-beam-spread fixtures. Fixtures were chosen for their tight beam, output, clean look and compact size. With finishes specified to match paint, this allowed the fixtures to blend seamlessly into the façade. Aiming of the fixtures was coordinated so that the lines did not hit the cross structure, signage, or sidewalk, potentially creating glare or hotspots on the ground. Hexcell louvers were used to further tighten the field of beam and minimize light spill. An astronomical timeclock allows lights to operate daily with sunrise and sunset.

Ultra-narrow beamspreads with high output mean fixtures can create lines across multiple stories. Hex cell louvers in each fixture further help to narrow the light field.

An abstract steel and mesh sculptural piece, which visually supports the illuminated cross is grazed in the same orange color that is used for the signage for visual emphasis. Carefully detailed fixture placement helps highlight the geometric shapes of the piece without drawing attention to the background structure, creating a vibrant focal point.

The renovated building stands out beautifully against the backdrop of downtown Houston.

The innovative approach to façade lighting is not only eye catching from long distances, it is also extremely efficient. The flood light initially proposed by the client would have consumed 3,560w. At only 38w/each, these lines of light consume only 950w total—a win visually and environmentally.

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