Perfect Night for Stargazing

Lake Metroparks Lake Erie Bluffs Observation Tower

Last night I drove out to one of my favorite parks in the Lake Metroparks system, Lake Erie Bluffs. Situated high on the bluff, the park has walking trails and beach access.  A couple years ago, Tec worked with I A Lewin, PE and Associates to complete the engineering for the 50 ft observation tower at the east end of the park. 

It was a perfect night for stargazing - clear skies and a cool 65 degrees and the stars were bright. The Milky Way was visible, but to my back in the shot above. 

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Stillwater Place

Here at Tec we're very excited for the opening of the new Stillwater Place event facility at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. It's a wonderful facility and our engineers truly enjoyed work the project. 

You can learn more about Stillwater Place through these news highlights.


On the case... a forensic investigation

Not a crime scene, but certainly a case of fantastic forensic engineering work. 

Hiram College completed a renovation of the dining/multi-purpose facility. Facilities staff noticed the compact fluorescent lamps (cfl) were not illuminated to full brightness. In preparation for a campus meeting, an electrical contractor was brought in to troubleshoot the problem. After checking the wiring for ground faults and replacing lamps, the problem persisted.

Tim Pool, PE, RCDD - Director of Engineering and a licensed electrical safety inspector - was called to assist the contractor. Working with our lighting designer, Ardra Zinkon and the fixture manufacturer, the team eliminated any lamp or ballast problems with the fixtures. On a lift inspecting fixtures, Tim noticed a cool draft of air coming from the plenum space, flowing out of the fixture housings. CFLs lose efficiency in cold conditions, providing lower illumination output. To test this, Tim used a piece of plastic wrap from the kitchen to cover the opening on the fixture housing, forcing the heat from the lamp to remain in the fixture and preventing the cold air from entering. The lamp went to full illumination almost instantly. 

It was determined that the kitchen hood exhaust combined with the make-up air unit was under pressurizing the main space and cold air from the air plenum was being dragged across the lamp causing a chill to the lamp envelope and thus not allowing the lamp to burn at full brightness. The College hired an air balancer to adjust air flow and the pressurization between the spaces was normalized.  

The solution we developed required an out-of-the box approach to problem solving that crossed disciplines. Who would’ve thought a piece of plastic wrap could be the primary tool to solve an engineering dilemma?

Cleveland Public Library Tech Central and MyCloud

The Cleveland Public Library Tech Central project is almost complete. We stopped in for a walk-thru last week while the final touches were being installed. The renovation looks beautiful, providing a needed update, while incorporating prominent pieces of the existing architecture.

The renovated space will provide a consilidated computing center for the Main branch with state of the art features. “We are proud to announce that in June 2012 we will be the first public library in the country, to provide a personalized desktop experience to our patrons using desktop virtualization. The days of saving files on USB flash drives will be over for many CPL patrons, as they will be able to use MyCloud to freely access their own computing world anywhere in the Library. MyCloud will allow each user to save their files, bookmarks, and preferences and have them available anytime they visit the Library.”

Along with the new desktop features, the new technology infrastructure is useful and unobtrusive. The electrical outlets and network connections are built into the furniture, inside of covered boxes. The cabling and power are run through the table legs and are routed under an innovative modular raised floor that feels like a solid floor. Tech Central is outfitted with Windows and Mac computers that are connected to the MyCloud service.

The architecture is brought to life through refurbished direct/indirect suspended lighting and additional accent lighting. The suspended fixtures illuminate the space evenly while minimizing glare for library patrons working at the computers. The existing intricate ceramic tile mosaic wall is highlighted for the first time with linear led accent lighting mounted to the edge of the counter installed along the wall. Additionally, information desks incorporate integral led technology with 3-form panels to provide a self-illumianted presense in the space.Track lighting has been installed to highlight a display table.

We’re proud to have been involved in the engineering and lighting design of this project.

 To view more pictures, visit the project photo gallery.

Photo Shoot at SPIRE Institute

Spent yesterday at SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio, photographing multiple completed projects on the campus. SPIRE is a complex designed for training and educating athletes, as well as hosting major sporting events.

As we moved through the buildings, passers-by would ask what we were doing. I explained that I work for the engineering firm that completed the systems design for most of the campus. Without hesitation each person I talked to complimented the team that designed the facilities. The local community is happy to have such a wonderful complex in their neighborhood.

Photos at

Arlene & Arthur Holden University Center of Lakeland Community College

On Wednesday, October 26 Tony, Tricia and Brandon attended the grand opening of the Arlene & Arthur Holden University Center of Lakeland Community College. So often the production engineers do not have the opportunity to visit a finished version of a project they worked on.  The Holden Center is 6 miles from our office, making it convenient to send multiple people to the opening celebration.  It’s a fantastic building that has been we recieved by the students and staff of Lakeland and the partner universities.

The New Obsolete

Technology is evolving so quickly these days and it seems what was “new” yesterday is old news today. We recently had a situation where a product specified less than 10 years ago became obsolete. A lamp used in a Fiberstars fiber optic illuminator was no longer available or supported by the manufacturer. The First Convenent Church of Willoughby Hills was desperate to come up with an affordable solution to keep the cross illuminated at night with the loss of the original lighting system.


Tec would like to thank Gene Scheilcher of Fiberstars for stepping up and finding a solution. While the lamp was no longer available, Gene had urged us to consider an LED option. Based on the cut sheets submitted, we were concerned with lumen output matching the previous system and asked for support on a mock-up. Following the mock-up, Gene went step further and provided the church with the replacement illuminator from Fiberstars.

Gene, thank you for your generous donation.

Photo Shoot at Miami University Farmer School of Business

I recently headed to Oxford, Ohio (near Dayton) for a photo shoot of a lighting design project at Miami University. An architectural lighting shoot is always a challenge. To those who haven’t had the opportunity to participate, it typically happens after hours (so we don’t end up with a lot of daylight filling the space). This means, the Owner is gracious enough to hand us the keys to the building and allow us to poke around in there after normal hours (just us and the cleaning crew).  We met  the day prior to the shoot to walk the space and come up with a gameplan. We also had to override the astronomical time clock on the lighting control system.

Checking the specific time of day for sunset, next we coordinated the “magic hour”.  It  happens for only about 45 minutes right before and during sunset. We get a great navy blue sky with no fill light coming in the windows striking a perfect balance with the indoor and outdoor environment. This project just so happened to be full of windows where we could take advantage of the daylight harvesting. It meant we had to pick the most significant spaces to catch that perfect light.

The photographer showed up with two sets of cameras to set up and allow us to move quickly between the two rooms with the most windows.  We shot eight different spaces in total and the shoot lasted almost 5 hours. We left the building around midnight.  You’d think that was a pretty long time for 8 photographs, but our photographer, Scott Pease ( was very detailed and intent in getting us the best shots possible. As the human eye is so much more sophisticated than a camera lens, we are able to easily discern details on lighting fixtures, whereas the camera often turns them into blobs of light. Scott brought his laptop and checked every exposure before the final bracketing shots to make sure we would get the details and contrast we needed.

Along with getting sneak peeks of the final images, I spent the rest of the evening with Scott’s assistant straightening tables, and lampshades, pushing chairs in, and moving trash cans out of the shot. After all pictures are taken, we restore the space and then the same scenario happens in the next space. It’s a lot of “hurry up and wait”, but the final images look fantastic.

Thanks again Scott!

Universal Design Living Laboratory

image from:

Last year I was approached with a rare opportunity to be part of a very unique team for the Universal Design Living Laboratory.  

What makes the project unique is that is being built from the ground up with the facets of universal design as the main unifying factor for all disciplines involved.  Not only that, but, it is also going to be a “living laboratory”, meaning open for guests to tour and better understand the goals of universal design.  The project Owners are Rosemarie Rosetti and Mark Leder. Rosemarie suffered a spinal cord injury years ago leaving here in a wheelchair and since then has devoted herself to speaking out to the world on universal design.

As a Lighting Designer, what does Universal Deign mean to me?  Small things that can be a big impact to the ease of someone living there, like locating switches and receptacles within reach of anyone in a wheelchair. Think about the kitchen and how you might reach a light switch located over a standard height/width countertop if you were in a wheelchair.  By keeping the goal of the space in mind, we were able to make small adjustments that will hugely impact the owner.  We made sure light fixtures were fully shielded and won’t provide higher angles of glare to those in seated positions. We specified light switches and dimmers with larger buttons or paddle style switches for ease of use for anyone with limited tactile ability. These are all pretty simple things to accomplish, if you think about it.

Along the basis of more thoughtful design, the Owners then decided to also build green. The house is hoping for a LEED Gold rating .  Within that avenue, we are tackling new ground through the integration of newly developed LED products. I have tested dozens here in my office to determine what will actually work and feel appropriate to a residential living space and meet our energy goals. I had a lot of reasons for looking at LED vs. fluorescent, most were not energy efficiency related, rather lighting quality related. Out goals were to achieve the “instant on” when a switch is turned on, rather than deal with the warm up time of compact fluorescent products. It is also allowing us an opportunity to dim with a fuller dimming curve then the fluorescent would have allowed and hopefully provide a much longer lamp life. Along their energy goals, we are hoping to power the exterior lighting with photovoltaic panels.  It has been a great opportunity to embrace current design trends and see how far we can go.

Ground-breaking was September 23, 2009 and much of the framing is already in place.

I have not been alone working on this project, I wanted to note that, along with Tec, the Universal Design Living Laboratory has over 100 corporate sponsors who see the value this project has to offer the public. If you get a chance, stop by the website at to see the progress made so far and those involved.