Lecture Halls

Larger instructional spaces, accommodating more than 75 students, involve more complex lighting and control systems. Seats and work surfaces are usually fixed and the instructional process is more structured and less personal. Seating arrangements are often fan shaped with rows of seats on a sloped or stepped floor. Lecture halls are usually windowless. ​The general lighting system should have a full range of dimming control to allow for lecture mode or for note-taking during AV presentations. Luminaires in the general seating area should be controlled independently from those in the insructor zone and over the visual display screens. Downlighting should be designed to minimize veiling reflections on the task surface. 

In the instructor zone directional accent lighting should be used to illuminate the instructor’s face, table top demonstrations and wall mounted chalkboards or whiteboards. The accent lighting should be positioned and controlled so as not to interfere with projection screens.  In addition to mandated emergency and safety lighting, specialized luminaires should be used to indicate changes in the floor elevation during low light intervals.



An auditorium typically includes two main areas: the house (audience seating) and the stage (performance area). Depending on the school and its program goals the auditorium will house everything from the usual dramatic presentations and concerts, to public assemblies, lectures, study halls, films, videos, and ceremonies. Both the lighting and lighting control systems need to be designed with the flexibility and capacity to handle any and all of these activities. 

General lighting is usually provided by downlights, suspended indirect or direct/indirect luminaires or luminaires installed in ceiling coves or soffits. The base level of illuminance should be planned for public assembly and visual tasks such as reading a program. If the auditorium regularly houses lectures, a supplemental lighting system may be needed over the seating area to provide additional illuminance for reading and handwriting.

Special shielded aisle or step lighting luminaires must be provided for safe navigation of the aisles at all times. Stage Lighting is an area that requires specialized knowledge and expertise. While there are many good technical publications available on this topic, the design and installation of stage lighting luminaires and control systems should be undertaken with the involvement of a theatrical lighting design consultant. 

 Gymnasium and Field House

Often, these are multi-function spaces. Gymnasiums and field houses typically occupy the largest square footage on a school campus. Aside from physical education, they often house other activities such as assemblies, graduations, dances and after school recreation. In schools where an auditorium is not feasible, the gymnasiums may include a proscenium stage for musical or dramatic presentations. 

Because of the need for high illuminance over the playing surface, the primary lighting system has traditionally included a combination of high bay HID luminaires, and daylight. The earliest discharge light sources were mercury vapor lamps; these have been all but eliminated today by metal halide technology. Supplementary lower level non-HID lighting systems should be part of the lighting layout for the variety of non-athletic events. Some HID luminaires are available with magnetic or electronic ballasts, which can “step dim” them to lower illuminance levelsB. 


For more information on lighting design for playing fields, ballparks, arenas, swimming pools and recreational area, consult the IESNA Recommended Practice for Sports and Recreational Area Lighting, and Chapter 24 of the 10th Edition IES Handbook: Lighting for Sports and Recreation

General Circulation Areas

Corridors should be lighted to provide safe passage. Lighting vertical surfaces, such as corridor walls, banks of lockers and bulletin boards with recessed perimeter luminaires creates a sense of spaciousness and emphasis. Corridors with lockers require a slightly higher level of illuminance to help illuminate the inside of the lockers. Corridors are often transition areas from outside daylight to the lower indoor illuminance levels. Higher levels of illumination adjacent to entrance lobbies help with this visual adjustment. 

Stairwell lighting should be positioned to eliminate dark areas in corners and shadows cast by those using the stairs. It must clearly delineate the edges of stair treads and the lighting at each landing must not be in the line of vision. 


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