A Breakthrough in Biophilic Lighting Design

LIGHTGLASS offers the first practical solution to bring the experience of daylight to windowless spaces.

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© lowercase.design, 2019

“The fundamental goal of biophilic design is to create a good habitat for people as biological organisms inhabiting modern structures, landscapes, and communities,” wrote the eminent theorist of biophilic design, Stephen R. Kellert, in this magazine.

There are numerous design strategies to bring the outside in: we can choose to build with natural materials, introduce and care for a wide variety of plants, we provide direct connections between inside and outside, and incorporate ample daylight to facilitate circadian lighting. These interventions seek to create a more natural habitat for the human creatures that live, work, and play inside our buildings. Unfortunately, there are too many spaces deep within buildings with no opportunities to connect the built environment to the outdoors.

Healthcare Clerestory Patient Family

© Jeffrey Totaro 2020

LIGHTGLASS offers a simple solution to bring circadian lighting into even the unlikeliest of built environments. At a recent renovation to a children’s hospital in Philadelphia, architecture and engineering firm Stantec did just that, using LIGHTGLASS clerestories in 16 interior patient observation rooms to add brightness, richness, and character to an environment with no sunlight.

Unlike typical hospital rooms, which are lit solely from above, the light from the LIGHTGLASS acts like daylight because it emits light from the side of the room.  Outdoors the sun is only directly overhead for a short period each day, and our eyes are more sensitive to light entering from the horizon. Lighting from the vertical plane, like that from LIGHTGLASS clerestories, color-tuned or not, offers greater impact on circadian entrainment and melatonin suppression than equivalent light from above, and can help in achieving WELL certification.

“We all need brighter days and darker nights,” says Josh Butz (LC, LEED GA), an electrical engineer with Stantec, who worked on the children’s hospital project in Philadelphia. “LIGHTGLASS was able to help us achieve the circadian stimulus values throughout the course of the day; it operates like daylight, and feels like daylight, and being able to do that in the core of a building is fantastic.”


This ability to recreate the experience of daylight entering a space through a window is a benefit to patients, health care workers, and visitors. By facilitating a subconscious connection to the outdoors, and a much-needed dynamic environment for people who might spend hours without stepping outside, LIGHTGLASS makes this hospital feel more natural. Jennifer Lanting (IIDA, NCIDQ), an interior designer who worked on the project said, “We had an architect on the project with us, and he wasn’t as familiar with the product or the space in general because he was brought on kind of late, and he was like ‘Oh, I didn’t know this patient room had an exterior wall’ and we were like ‘Nope, that’s a light – that’s not a window’. I thought the LIGHTGLASS looked awesome, it looked like a real window in the space.”

Constructed like a window, out of aluminum and glass, LIGHTGLASS was not conceived as a light fixture; it is a new type of architectural element at the intersection of architectural glazing and LED lighting. Before the compact window-mimicking light fixture came on the scene, there was no practical way to bring the experience of daylight into a windowless space. “If we didn’t have LIGHTGLASS, I don’t think we would have found another product that worked,” remarked Lanting.


Categories: Healthcare Architecture, Lighting, Sponsored