Lighting creates a fun atmosphere inside Fort Sam Houston’s rec center for military students.

Known as the “Home of Army Medicine” and “Home of the Combat Medic,” Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio is a historic military installation that is home to the largest healthcare training center in the country.

The Club at Fort Sam Houston

At the end of World War II, the U.S. Army decided to make Fort Sam Houston the principal medical training facility – and the adjacent Brooke General Hospital – one of the Army’s premier medical centers. With the addition of the Wilford Hall Medical Center, located at nearby Lackland and Randolph Air Force Base which has been combined with Fort Sam Houston to become the Joint Base San Antonio, this area is the largest medical treatment facility and teaching hospital in the Department of Defense.

Fort Sam Houston also serves as the command headquarters for the U.S. Army North and U.S. Army South, the Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) headquarters, the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) Center and School, the Fifth Recruiting Brigade, Navy Regional Recruiting, the San Antonio Military Entrance and Processing Station, and the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC).

Students taking classes on the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) are now enjoying a new three-story, LEED-certified building that houses the Fort Sam Houston BRAC Student Activity Center. Nicknamed “The Club,” it’s a place where trainees can relax and take a break from their training and studies. The space also reflects the building’s overall architectural vision: an artful blend of tradition with technology. Creative use of iLight’s Plexineon Blue and Plexineon Orange fixtures extends that intent.

The Design Challenge

With low ceilings and no natural light in the lower-level space, lighting was a key consideration for Annette Guerrero, interior designer at San Antonio-based RVK Architects. Budget was also an issue, as were the many visual elements in the 62,000-sq.-ft. space — from TVs, a dance floor, and a DJ booth to a soda bar, dartboards, pool tables, and an ATM.

It was challenging to add more for decorative purposes when we had so much going on visually for recreational [activities].

“It was challenging to add more for decorative purposes when we had so much going on visually for recreational [activities],” Guerrero says. However, once she discovered iLight Technologies’ Plexineon product, she was inspired. “I knew I could do anything with these fixtures,” she comments.

The Plexineon product is available in white as well as colors (Blue, Green, Magenta, Rose, Teal) and with diffuser colors (when not illuminated) in Frosted, Red, Light Pink. Used for exterior and interior accent or cove lighting, the Plexineon fixtures are low-voltage, easy to install, cool to the touch, durable, and have a long life. They can be ordered in standard lengths (2, 4, 6, and 8 feet) or in custom lengths (available to the nearest 1/4-inch) and in illuminated outside corner pieces, or factory convex or convex bends to a minimum inside radius of 5 inches. The maximum illumination length of a single 100-watt power supply is 32 feet.

For the Fort Sam Houston BRAC Student Activity Center’s “Club” room, Guerrero made the accent lighting a centerpiece of the overall design, employing blue and orange rectangles outlined in Plexineon and suspended against a ceiling that was painted black. Guerrero recalls that it was an “exciting piece to present” to her client — and one that was met with approval.

From there, the process was smooth. The installation was simple to accomplish and the final effect provided just the right aesthetic, with the light reflecting off multiple surfaces and creating an high-energy vibe.

“The Plexineon helps define the space and adds a festive feel,” Guerrero notes. “It definitely transforms and brightens, but it’s an opaque light — not blinding. It’s unobtrusive and didn’t need a lot of power. It came out looking just the way we wanted.” 