Congratulations to the 2015 Thesis Prizes Recipients:
James Clotfelter from Parsons and Kassandra Gonzales from the Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

May 20, 2015

From Left to Right: Brad Telias, IESNYC Scholarships Committee Member; Winner Kassandra Gonzales, Lighting Research Center, RPI; Dan Frering, Manager of Education, Lighting Research Center RPI, Kelly M. Seeger, IESNYC Thesis Prize Coordinator; Winner James Clotfelter, Parsons the New School for Design; Michael Barr, IESNYC Scholarships Committee Member

The IESNYC Thesis Prize is an annual $1,000 award given to two graduating students whose thesis projects demonstrate excellence in design and/or research and best represent the intellectual insight, rigor and quality standards as set forth by the respective school department and the student’s thesis committee.

James Clotfelter
MFA, Lighting Design
Parsons the New School for Design

James Clotfelter is a graduate student at Parsons pursuing a double MFA in Lighting Design and Transdisciplinary Design. As a designer, he is committed to collaborative and socially conscious work that builds empathy, awareness and connection. Inspired by a background in theatre and dance, he uses improvisation, mechanics and creative management to design real-time environments, interruptive conditions and the systems that support experience.

"The strong social ethos demonstrated in James Clotfelter’s thesis work causes us to question the way light is used in our urban surroundings. By bringing new ideas, tools and methods to familiar design problems, this thesis suggests the next phase of lighting design practice.
Glenn Shrum IALD, MIES, Director, MFA Lighting Design, Parsons The New School for Design

Engaging Public Light: design strategies and interventions for the pedestrian nightscape
Light is one of the biggest determinants of our nighttime engagement with public space and its social implications are too often taken for granted. Through its organization and quality, light communicates atmosphere, access and program but it also has the potential to support community gathering and facilitate interaction. However, access to public space at night can be hampered by an inability to navigate or the fear of what cannot be seen. City code and design guidelines address this issue by establishing basic standards of illumination but, when applied too systematically, these measures fail to respond to the unique characteristics of a given site and communities that inhabit it.

Engaging Public Light investigates participatory and community engaged activities that provoke dialogue about public space in order to better inform socially conscious design strategies. The research was conducted in collaboration with designers, movement practitioners and community members and uses light and tactility as the central languages of communication. It employs movement as an empathetic means of research and the accessibility of human-scaled objects to literally put light into the community’s hands. Allowing people to encounter public light on a small and responsive scale shifts its role as a fixed part of the institutional infrastructure to one that can reflect local values and an identity of place.  A quality of light that enables true engagement between people and the public spaces they share will promote healthier, happier and stronger communities.

Kassandra Gonzales
MS, Lighting
Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Kassandra Gonzales is a graduate student at the Lighting Research Center (LRC), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. A Texas native, Kassandra grew up in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. She graduated in 2011 from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas with a BS in Interior Design and a minor in Construction Technology. After graduation, she worked as a lighting applications engineer for a firm in Austin.
Kassandra has a passion for helping the elderly. During her undergraduate education, she concentrated on interior design for assisted living facilities. She was introduced to the importance of lighting for the aging eye while taking undergraduate lighting design classes with Dr. Asha Hegde, a passionate advocate for lighting for seniors. Subsequently, she joined the Illuminating Engineering Society’s Committee on Lighting for the Aged and Partially Sighted and returned to school to pursue a Master’s of Science in Lighting from the LRC. There she studied with Dr. Mariana Figueiro and Russ Leslie, who inspired her to research lighting design for elderly care facilities for her master’s project.
After graduation, Kassandra will continue to pursue her passion for lighting and the aging eye through creating lighting designs informed by the science of light and health.

"Rensselaer’s Lighting Research Center is grateful to the IESNYC for its continued support of quality lighting education through its annual Thesis Prize. Our faculty nominated Kassandra Gonzales as the 2015 recipient in recognition of her outstanding academic performance in all aspect of lighting and the relevance of her master’s project to timely developments in lighting design. Kassandra has merged her substantial lighting design acumen with her studies in light and health to develop model lighting designs for senior care rooms.  The resulting design tool will be a needed resource to improve vision, safety and circadian entrainment of older adults."
Professor Russ Leslie, FIES, AIA, Head, Graduate Programs in Lighting; Associate Director, Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Lighting Patterns for Elderly Care Facilities: Using Circadian Stimulus as a Design Criterion
Residents in elderly care facilities are often plagued by irregular sleep patterns. To help alleviate this problem, it is recommended that residents receive certain amounts of light at the correct spectral power distribution to better entrain their circadian systems. Residents in these facilities typically do not receive the amount and type of light necessary to keep their circadian systems entrained to a normal sleep wake cycle. In the morning, it is recommended that residents receive a high circadian stimulus. To do this, higher light levels and light sources with shorter wavelengths are required. In the evening, residents should receive a lower circadian stimulus, necessitating lower light levels and light sources with longer wavelengths.

Lighting patterns were created to aid specifiers in selecting and placing luminaires necessary to meet these requirements while supporting the vision and orientation needs of older adults. Three typical rooms were selected: small single, medium single, and double occupancy. Base cases were created to show typical lighting and then new lighting designs are offered for both retrofits and new constructions and analyzed for circadian stimulus (CS). Retrofits involve flush mount and plug in luminaires to achieve lighting effects appropriate for different times and tasks throughout the day and night. New construction utilizes recessed, flush mount, and plug in luminaires. Using color tunable sources, lighting scenes were created for each scenario. These scenarios are presented using lighting plans, renderings, and luminaire information. For this presentation, the small single occupancy scenario is discussed.


Parsons School of Design Thesis Prize – M.F.A. Lighting Program

The thesis project is the culmination of study in the program and is a year-long self-guided project which includes research, a written essay, and a studio based design problem in which the student completes a comprehensive analysis of a chosen topic that questions conventions, standards and applications associated with the practice of lighting design.


Lighting Research Center at RPI Thesis Prize – M.S. Lighting, M.S. Architectural Sciences with a concentration in lighting, PhD, Architectural Sciences Programs

The thesis project is an intensive student-initiated project using original research or design evaluations to test hypotheses. Each student works closely with a faculty advisor and committee on the development and execution of his or her thesis project. The results are presented in a thesis and demonstrate the student’s mastery of an area of lighting. The LRC has both the facilities and the faculty to support a wide range of thesis topics. Students are encouraged to develop their own interests and build on their previous academic or professional experience. Thesis topics can be geared toward a research or a design aspect of lighting. Each year the LRC has seen more unusual and imaginative thesis topics introduced, reflecting the students’ diverse backgrounds.