Project: Monterey Bay Aquarium Visual Comfort Study
Monterey Bay Aquarium floor
plan showing pathways which will be discussed later in this case study. Click here to go directly to the Pathway Illuminance Index.
Illuminance measurements were taken at specifiic points
along the paths illustrated on the floor plan to the left. Each point represents a
significant point in the aquarium where visitors passed or gathered. Two readings were
taken at 5'5" height, one during the bright midday and another after twilight.
Measurements taken in the northwest portion of the building and on the second floor serve
as references, and are less significant to the hypothesis of the study. The most
significant locations to the study are in the southwest portion of the building along the
main dark corridor, where exhibits require dark environments.
To begin to understand the complex issues of light witin the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we
need to measure the lighting conditions experienced by a visitor in the
specialized-lighting sections of the aquarium. General light levels as a visitor walks
through the aquarium and specific light levels as a visitor examines individual exhibits
must also be examined. This can be accomplished through analog and discreet measurements.
1. View Documentation.
Regions within the aquarium were photographed to document views experienced by visitors.
These images were taken during the morning and immediately developed for use later the
Tools used: SLR camera with 1600 speed film. No flash.
2. General Lighting Assessment
While the film was being processed and developed, general, non-object-based illuminance
levels were measured. Horizontal plane illuminance levels were taken at 5'6" from
floor level. The measurements were taken while walking along common aquarium paths,
recording readings at exhibits and junctions, once during the daylight hours and once
Tools used: Minolta T-1H illuminance meter held
horizontally at 5'6".
3. Specific Lighting Assessment
Once the photographs were processed printed, they were used to perform object-based
luminance measurement, analyzing the contrast between luminances from objects in a view
region, indicating level of glare. For view regions encompassing an exhibit only, the
darkest and brightest luminance of each element: exhibit, signage, wall were documented.
For view regions on a pathline, the darkest and brightest luminance of each element (areas
representing over 10% of vision): general cone of vision, floor were measured.
Tools used: Minolta LS-110 luminance meter.
Photographs from step 1 mounted on notebook for annotation.
NOTE: It should be understood that photographs do not always reveal a true image of
interior environments. Very often, a photograph will show that a space is more glarey than
would be perceived by the human eye.
In talking to Chuck Caplener from the MBA Engineering Services, complaint levels,
maintenance issues, exhibit and building technologies were noted.
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