San Antonio, Texas – Over 28,000 visitors recently attended the grand opening of The Ark at the new Sunday school building of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. Authentic lighting and spectacular architecture captivated the visitors during their tour of the Ark inside the 26,000-square foot facility.
The church pastor, John Hagee, and his son and pastor, Matthew Hagee, wanted to build a classroom building for 800 children ranging from age three to five, to serve as a nursery school for the Church. The central lobby was designed to look like the inside of the Ark. It is filled with the biblical imagery of Noah’s Ark in order to introduce the children to The Scriptures. Displayed on the floor are 17 animal figures representing a portion of all of the world’s animals gathered onto the original vessel. This includes nine animatronics, ranging from a trumpeting elephant and a roaring lion to a Macaw that talks. Animal Makers Studio of Moorpark, California, created all of the animal replicas.
“Our greatest challenge was to provide light where we needed it throughout The Ark while concealing the fact that they were electrical lighting fixtures,” explained Dan Wigodsky, AIA, President of Wigodsky Architects. “We used 400 Meyda candle covers over track lighting heads to give the impression of candles lighting the space. They give overall general lighting, and also hide the spots that light the animals.” The track fixtures sit on top of a ‘light shelf’ mounted nine feet above the floor. Besides providing the appropriate height for the lighting spots, the shelf also gives the space a more human scale in height.” Danny Derrick, AIA, an architect with the firm, was also involved in all details of the project.
The 400 resin candlelights were designed and manufactured by Meyda Custom Lighting. They cover energy efficient 32-watt LED track fixtures, and can be positioned anywhere along the track. The Meyda candles create a warm ambient glow, recreating the authentic look and mood of real candle lighting before the discovery of electricity. “Meyda candles were a perfect complement to the Ark’s design,” Wigodsky continues. “The candles are featured in three heights: six, eight, and 10 inches.
In addition to the candle covers, custom designed lanterns are used outside of the Ark to light the wood stairs to the second floor and the entry vestibules. The 30″ tall fixtures are used both as pendants hanging below the stairs, and as post mounts for illumination in open spaces. Each lantern contains a six-inch diameter candle cover over 32-watt LED fixtures. Light from the fixtures shines upwards, and bounces from a reflector above to provide ambient lighting while still concealing the source. The lanterns provide long life, and operate as emergency lights. The painted finish simulates rust and was designed specifically for this project.
The Ark boat-shaped walls are made from rustic knotty hardwood. The handrails on the second floor are made from the same wood, as are the custom doors.
Inside The Ark, the ceiling is painted like a blue sky with wispy clouds, and is accented by two 30-foot long LED shooting stars. The sky changes color from sunrise to sunset from illumination from Red, Green and Blue LED strip lights in a cove below.
Flanking the lobby Ark are 13 classrooms. Each classroom is themed like the stalls in the Ark, with 3-D murals depicting additional animals, carpet that replicates wood planking, and acoustic ceiling tiles painted with a broom to resemble wood planks.Tagged with lighting, tED