February 2018

Melissa Goren, LC, PE, IALD, LEED AP BD+C, MIES 
Studio Manager
Lightbox Studios

Q: How did you first get started in the lighting industry?
I've known that I wanted to be involved with buildings ever since I was a kid. My parents co-designed our house with an architect, and I remember pulling the blueprints out of the closet and looking at them over and over again, fascinated by how the drawings showed everything I lived in - my bedroom, the kitchen, the living room. It wasn't until my freshman year at Penn State that I began to consider that I could actually be the person making the drawings.  I began my undergrad work in a freshman program focusing on all the majors in the College of Engineering, which is when I found out about the joint Architectural Engineering major.  As soon as I started taking lighting classes and saw how light can change the entire feel of a space, I realized I had a real passion for lighting design.  I loved all the modeling, selecting fixtures for a space, all the technical stuff. But what I really loved was the visual, the tactile sense of lighting design, the instant gratification of seeing your work in action, having a very clear impact on - and interaction with - the MEP work. But it's not just about the aesthetics. More and more, they're realizing how lighting affects people's health and well-being, which has opened up a whole new, very exciting aspect in my design work.

Q: How did you first get involved in the IESNYC?
The year before I graduated college, I had a summer internship at Kugler Tillotson, which afforded me the opportunity to work with some truly great lighting designers. It also provided my first encounter with IESNYC when someone in the office suggested I go to the Lumen Awards, which turned out to be a real life-changer.  I had no idea how large - or how vital - the New York City lighting community was.  It was truly inspiring to see the wide range of projects winning awards, to get a taste of the exciting work being done in lighting, and, most of all, to talk to people who were genuinely passionate about what they did. I was already fantasizing about how exciting it could be to live in New York. The Lumen Awards showed me how exciting it could be to work here. I joined IESNYC as soon as I was officially a New York City lighting designer, and have been a member for close to 15 years now.

Q: How do you see your role as member of the IESNYC?
When I first joined IESNYC, I remember attending a lot of events. I was hungry for industry-based information and eager to make contact with other lighting design professionals. As my own career has grown and established solid footing, I've sought and have been offered other opportunities to increase my involvement with the organization. In 2014 I helped organize the information to be reviewed in a NYC Building Codes panel, as well as being one of the panel participants, and in 2016 I served as a judge for the Lumen Awards, assessing initial project submissions and determining with the other judges which projects would ultimately be honored. More recently, I've become a member of the Sponsorship Committee, where I've been privileged to play a role in supporting the extraordinary range of events and programming that IESNYC provides. I'm particularly proud of the committee's support for the scholarship program, since the organization's future is with young people - like me back during that summer internship - first experiencing the excitement and promise of this industry.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best assets of the IESNYC?
I think one of the chief strengths of IESNYC is the sheer breadth of its vision, encompassing diverse aspects of the lighting industry from design to fabrication to construction and creating a community that ranges from students to seasoned professionals.  The lectures, panel discussions and classes, while they were instrumental to my development as a young designer, have actually become more important to me now that my career has more fully defined itself. As Studio Manager for LightBox Studios, the lighting division of Jaros, Baum & Bolles (JB&B), my own interests as a lighting designer have evolved more toward healthcare and wellness issues, the expanding possibilities of LED lighting, and how lighting can be an intrinsic element of sustainable design. IESNYC has both fostered and supported these interests.  And of course IESNYC's greatest strength is the incredible group of talented professionals it brings together who share its vision. They inspired me when I was an intern. They are just as inspiring to me as colleagues.