Located on Goose Island in the heart of Chicago, UI LABS' new Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute – DMDII for short – is the product of a collaborative initiative among government agencies, key universities, and industry partners. Consistent with UI LABS' mission to reinvent manufacturing for the 21st Century, this 64,000-square-foot facility offers a flexible infrastructure that enables participating partners to pursue manufacturing innovation, research, and workforce development.
DMDII serves as a comprehensively equipped technology hub that includes 22,400-square-feet of digital manufacturing space, open office areas for engineering and research activities, conference facilities, areas for dining and social interaction, plus offices for permanent staff. To stimulate innovative thinking and encourage a spirit of collaboration, the design objective was to seamlessly blend the manufacturing areas with the adjacent open office and support spaces. Lighting became a critical element in achieving this goal.
In selecting lighting fixtures for DMDII's open offices and work areas, UI LABS' lighting designers – Schuler Shook – set out to match the clean industrial aesthetic, form factor, and quality of light displayed in the fixtures already selected for the manufacturing area. Additionally, the spatial concept called for the office fixtures to function as a unifying element, presenting a scaled-down profile that would provide visual continuity with the larger manufacturing environment. Furthermore, the fixtures needed to integrate smoothly with the 14-foot-high, open-metal-grid office ceilings; provide excellent shielding of the LED light source; and deliver 35-45 (maintained) foot-candles of light at the work plane.
The designers initially considered employing a smaller version of the ceramic metal halide (CMH) fixtures used in the manufacturing/warehousing areas. However, as the lighting design took shape, it became apparent that Chicago electrical codes would require multiple circuits operated with employee-accessible controls, increasing the likelihood of inadvertent shutdowns. Since CMH lamps require extensive warm-up time before restarting, this represented a serious potential problem, leading the designers to begin considering instant-on LED lighting as an alternative. Then, when UI LABS decided to add skylights to the office space, code requirements for daylight harvesting further strengthened the case for LEDs due to their ability to gradually dim in response to increased levels of natural light from above.
Once it became clear that LED lighting was the most viable solution, Schuler Shook undertook a thorough evaluation process to identify the most suitable LED fixtures for the DMDII office-lighting project. AccuLite™ Exeter E3 Series LED fixtures from Juno Lighting Group won the competition on the basis of offering the highest lumen output, shortest lead time, and most attractive pricing. Pendant-mounted, Exeter LED highbay fixtures were specified because of their similar appearance to the manufacturing-area fixtures and their ability to deliver over 10,000 lumens of brilliant, high-quality white light. In addition to meeting the rigorous aesthetic and performance requirements, the Exeter LED fixtures provided a 24% energy savings over the previously considered CMH units. And with a rated service life of 50,000 hours, they offered substantial maintenance and operating cost savings.
In keeping with UI LABS' goal to elevate American industry to the pinnacle of global manufacturing technology, LEDs offered the opportunity to adopt the world's most efficient, socially responsible light source. By substantially reducing energy consumption, LEDs help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that appear to be driving widespread climate change. And unlike other popular light sources, LEDs contain no hazardous toxins such as lead, mercury, or PCBs that pose a threat to our delicate ecosystem. The combination of unsurpassed lighting performance, reduced energy consumption, a cost-effective price point, and eco-friendly operation weighed heavily in the decision to incorporate LED lighting into UI LABS' groundbreaking DMDII facility.