Designing with Light

Thinking Into the Future: The Robie House Series on Architecture, Design, and Ideas

More and more, so it seems to me, light is the beautifier of buildings.”
- Frank Lloyd Wright

The role of light in architecture has a long history. Light is a defining element in the creation of the built environment.  A dynamic and ephemeral tool, it shapes the experience of architectural space like no other factor. Designing with Light explores how practitioners, historic and contemporary, have used light in architecture. Author and historian Mark Hertzberg will consider Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterful use of glass and natural light at the SC Johnson Administration Building. Hervé Descottes, co-founder of the lighting design firm L’Observatoire International, New York City will discuss the importance of lighting in the public realm. Kulapat Yantrasast, founding partner and creative director at the Los Angeles-based design firm wHY, will share his experiences with light in designing museums and art galleries.

Following an illustrated presentation by each speaker, participants will be joined by the Trust’s curator, David Bagnall, for a panel discussion and audience questions.


Hervé Descottes
Herve DescottesIn 1993, French designer Hervé Descottes co-founded the lighting design firm L’Observatoire International in New York City after eight years of design practice in Paris, France. Descottes personally creates the lighting concepts for all projects designed by L’Observatoire, and oversees project development through project completion. The firm has collaborated with architects and designers including Steven Holl, Frank Gehry, and Richard Meier. L’Observatoire International’s past projects include lighting proposals for the Eiffel Tower, the redesign of lighting under I. M. Pei’s pyramid entrance to the Louvre, master plans for the Hudson Yards Project, NY, and the Hong Kong Harbor Masterplan competition. The firm is engaged in a lighting plan for the renovation of Chicago’s Navy Pier.

Mark Hertzberg
Mark HertzbergMark Hertzberg is the author and photographer of Wright in Racine (2004), Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hardy House (2006) and Frank Lloyd Wright's SC Johnson Research Tower (2010). Hertzberg, who is Director of Photography of The Journal Times in Racine, has won numerous awards for his work. He has lectured extensively about Wright’s work in Racine. Hertzberg also serves on the board of the Wright in Wisconsin Program.

Kulapat Yantrasast
Kulapat YantrasastThai architect Kulapat Yantrasast is a founding partner and Creative Director of wHY (Workshop Hakomori Yantrasast), a multi-disciplinary firm that works with designed objects, architecture and ideas. Yantrasast values humanist design, focusing on the way architecture directly relates to its human inhabitants. The firm has a diverse portfolio with significant work focused on museums and galleries. They have completed the Speed Museum in Louisville, KY; Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles; Gagosian Gallery in San Francisco; Grand Rapids Art Museum in Michigan; and in Chicago, several Art Institute permanent collections galleries and Skylanding by Yoko Ono in Jackson Park. The firm has just received a commission to redesign the Rockefeller Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and won an international competition for the Ross Pavilion and Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland – a World Heritage site.


Sunday, October 1, 2017


2 - 3:30 pm


Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E Washington St, Chicago


FREE. Registration required

Banner image:
Glass tubing detail, SC Johnson Administration Building (Frank Lloyd Wright, 1936).

(c) Mark Hertzberg