Creating a Brighter Future with Neel Lighting & Controls Product Fair

by Brianna Grossman

Architecture students gather around various exhibits, including LA Lighting, Primus Lighting and Cole Lighting

On May 11, dozens of architecture students and professionals got the opportunity to see and interact with industry-leading lighting technology as various exhibits illuminated the Berg Gallery.  

Neel Lighting & Controls, a lighting consultant company based in southern California, held a product fair hosting 13 premier lighting manufacturers from across the industry to showcase their products and connect with architecture students.  

The fair was a joint effort between the Architecture Department and Neel Lighting & Controls to promote a proposed lighting lab for architecture students. As of June 1, Friends of Lutron have pledged lighting controls and fixtures, and Neel Lighting has pledged support, but the Architecture Department needs another four named sponsors at $10k a year for five years.  

The Architecture Department’s current curriculum teaches building technology and sustainability in the second and third year of the five-year program. Advancements made in LED technology and lighting controls as well as a greater focus on efficiency and human health require a Learn by Doing approach to lighting design.  

“There is no more direct method of learning about the poetic potential of light than through hands-on interaction with light, materials and space,” said faculty member Sandy Stannard, who is leading the effort to establish a new lighting lab. The proposed lighting lab would provide a dedicated space for learning about and experimenting with architectural lighting, supporting an essential component of an architect’s education. 

1. A Q-Tran representative shows students the company's different lighting designs 2. Students chat with a representative from Alphalite 

Industry leaders welcomed students, professors and architects to check out their lighting exhibits and learn more about the important relationship between lighting and architecture. 

“Having a show like this where you can actually see the product, you can learn about the product, you can put your hands on it, you can control it, you talk to people who are experts about it […] it enhances the ability for people to really understand the importance of the products that you select and how you make use of them,” said Teal Brogden. 

Brogden, president and senior principal of Horton Lees and Brogden Lighting Design, attended the fair and gave the keynote speech. She touched on the value of having architecture students interact and connect with lighting professionals.

“It's a way to bring the community together on a topic that people may not think about every day. And it's also a way to bring a lot of people together to explore and learn from each other,” she said.  

1. A Lutron representative speaking to students about their lighting exhibit 2. Close-up of exhibit  

During the fair, the attending companies held presentations for student enrichment and AIA continuing education credits (CEUs) for local architects. Attendees also had opportunities for one-on-one conversations with professionals and to see the latest industry products up-close.  

The fair further highlighted the potential industry relationships that would emerge from an interdisciplinary education. The lighting lab would provide this integrative space, giving students an immersive environment to explore the connections between structure and lighting.  

1. Presentations given throughout the fair offered continuing education credits for AIA members 2. Altman Lighting giving a presentation to architecture students and professionals 

Students get a closer look at lighting industry technology

If you would like to support the proposed lighting lab for architecture students, please consider donating to the Architecture Department Fund for Excellence by clicking Give Now below or contacting Senior Director of Development Kelly Dye at 805-459-8349 or 


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