The brainchild of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Seattle’s EMP Museum pays tribute to some of the world’s most influential pop culture icons.
Founded in 2000, the EMP building (also known as Experience Music Project) has a story as intriguing as the collections inside it. When designing an exterior that would evoke a rock ‘n’ roll experience, famed architect Frank O. Gehry reportedly purchased several electric guitars, sliced them into pieces, and used them as “building blocks” for an early model design. The motif is particularly apt, as among this modern city’s celebrated musicians are Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana.
The resulting 140,000-sq.-ft. facility is home to a series of leading-edge galleries plus a “Sky Church,” which houses a Barco C7 black package LED screen, considered to be one of the largest indoor LED screens in the world.
Over the past 13 years, EMP has organized 46 exhibits, including the largest collections of artifacts, hand-written lyrics, personal instruments, and original photographs highlighting the music and history of Seattle’s most influential music icons.
The purpose behind the EMP Museum is to offer a one-of-a-kind architectural and educational venue that combines textures, colors, and interactive technologies. Part of EMP’s plan is to serve as a model for energy conservation within the larger arts community while reducing its carbon footprint.
The job of selecting a consortium of service providers to handle the energy-efficient retrofits and renovations throughout the venue fell to Lee Richardson, the museum’s Assistant Director of Facilities & Engineering.
One of the biggest challenges that concerned Richardson was to prove to the EMP stakeholders that it was possible to move from a dimmable, incandescent-driven exhibit to a dimmable, LED-driven one. Another key objective was “to visually accomplish the desired color temperature for displaying art and objects, while keeping the foot candle requirements at a minimum to ensure the safety and longevity of these items.”
To satisfy these critical requirements, Toshiba LED Lighting provided 1,500 lamps for the project. PAR20 and 30 lamps were selected and used to illuminate artifacts throughout EMP’s many unique galleries; PAR20s, 30s, and 38s for its dining section, common areas, and for general ambient lighting; A19s illuminate the institutions’ chandeliers. Richardson called Toshiba LED Lighting, “the best choice for a quality energy-efficient retrofit from traditional lighting to LED products.”
In addition to exceptional light quality and performance, one of the biggest benefits for choosing Toshiba LED Lighting was energy savings. As a result of the lighting retrofit, the museum can expect a return on investment within only 7.2 years (based on $0.95 kWh electricity / 12 a day), and product that will last 25 times longer than traditional halogens and incandescent lamp sources. The Toshiba LED Lighting products are offered in a variety of color temperatures and distributions, reach full brightness instantly, and use up to 85 percent less energy than incandescent and halogen lamps.
Saving energy and money will help the EMP Museum continue thriving in the Seattle area as an educational resource (there are plenty of programs for teens and children) for years to come.
Project: EMP Museum, Seattle
Architect: Frank O. Gehry & Associates, Santa Monica, California
Associate Architect: LMN Architects, Seattle
Lighting Products: Toshiba
Photography: Rick Barry