When Crossroads Church revitalized an aging church in Cincinnati to establish a new campus for their expanding congregation, they turned to Vincent Lighting Systems (VLS). Our sales staff and project managers worked together to build the perfect match of architectural lighting fixtures, stage lighting instruments and controls to satisfy the church’s ambitions. In the end, our team provided a flexible stage lighting system to allow for dynamic performances and stirring worship services. Additionally, we helped the church establish their exterior as a neighborhood landmark. Most importantly, we were able to provide the support and expertise to make these systems reliable and accessible to the volunteers and crew at the church.
Originally constructed in 1873 as Old Saint George Church, the building had fallen into disrepair after its closure in 1993. The church had been scheduled for demolition multiple times before being acquired by the current owners. Given the age of the building and the outdated lighting systems already present, there were many obstacles to tackle in order to meet their goals. In addition to enhancing the exterior appearance of the building, they also wanted to add a modern church lighting system for their contemporary worship services. The design committee from Crossroads Church envisioned a modern aesthetic, without covering up the enduring history of the church.
Any time after dusk, the distinctive personality of the church is visible thanks to the glowing lighted steeples. With the original steeples completely destroyed by a fire in 2008, the two towers are now capped by brightly illuminated perforated steel clad steeples and can be seen from blocks away. The VLS Project team used tightly focused LED wash lights to concentrate light within the structure, producing a welcoming glow that seems to beckon the congregation to the church. The inviting glow is further enhanced by programming that includes a limited number of interior fixtures to illuminate ground level windows. An informal review of the power draw and average cost per KWh revealed that allowing these fixtures to burn for an additional 12 hours, 365 days per year would only account for $500 annually. While similar budgeting would not be possible using traditional incandescent lighting, given the inherit efficacy of LED fixtures, the church decided that the cost was acceptable, given the curb appeal and impact within the surrounding community. The fixtures require little maintenance and operate automatically, via a schedule based on each day’s sunrise/sunset times. If necessary, they can be controlled manually through the architectural lighting control system.
The heart of the architectural lighting control network is the ETC Unison ERN Architectural Control Network Enclosure. All of the church auditorium’s button stations and touchscreens are wired back to the “brain” of the network. Staff use the wall-mounted control surfaces to engage presets or dim lights in the auditorium, but any architectural light can be interfaced from the main station. It also acts as a liaison to allow control of architectural fixtures via the lighting console used during church services and musical performances. This central processor is located away from public areas, in an equipment rack with the other devices used to distribute control signals throughout the building.
Our project managers carefully planned the signal processing rack to meet the specific requirements of the installation. Outgoing network data would be required for the courtyard, steeple lighting, and multiple points within the sanctuary. Additionally, incoming data would be received from multiple locations including wall station architectural controls and the main lighting console. Two network switches handled all of the data I/O. MA Lighting network nodes were used to translate network data to DMX for the many intelligent lighting fixtures and LEDs. In case of a data or power failure, a Philips Strand Lighting Emergency DMX Bypass Switch was installed to provide data to the lighting fixtures. A power conditioner / uninterruptable power supply was added to ensure continuous operation and protection of the electronics in the event of a power failure, brown-out or blackout. These devices work in conjunction with battery backups for designated emergency LED house light fixtures to ensure visibility and seamless operation despite power failures.
Near the Signal Processing Rack, VLS provided a pair of ETC Sensor 3 Power Control Centers. These are populated with dimmer modules, relay modules and versatile power-thru modules to provide variable power to conventional lights and non-dim power to LEDs and moving lights. They are wired to an emergency bypass detection unit so that a failure of the power distribution cabinets will trigger the emergency bypass batteries and control signals that keep the emergency lights on in the sanctuary, ensuring public safety despite a power failure.
Due to the rough and irregular stone walls, the battery backup units are mounted on a unistrut frame. The batteries supply emergency power for designated houselights in the sanctuary, so there was no need for an emergency generator.
The architectural lights include a combination of Aquarii LED recessed downlights and indirect lighting from GDS by ETC Pro Multicell LD wash lights. The downlights provide visibility while the indirect lights provide a warm, soft light with an inviting atmosphere that accent the stabilized and maintained interior details.
The Aquarii units’ housing were color-matched to blend into the patina on the ceiling and used as a direct replacement for the existing fixtures, while the GDS LED lighting fixtures sit atop custom truss structures designed to provide new lighting positions without obscuring the beauty of the original marble columns. Everything had to be ground supported since the design of the roof and the potential weight load prevented any overhead rigging. Working with King’s Electric, all of the wiring was planned to use existing penetration, since there was no plan to disturb the existing structure.
The truss structures also support a number of LED and conventional spotlights to provide directional lighting onstage. The LED spots offer the ability to quickly change colors to set the tone of the performance or message. Moving lights are also used from these positions, offering re-focusable specials and effects lighting. Each truss tower features a customized output panel with power and data/network outputs to control intelligent lighting fixtures.
More moving lights, ellipsoidal spotlights and LED washes were supplied as floor-mounted lights and backlights surrounding the stage. All of these stage lighting fixtures enhance the music performances and set the mood for the worship band. Additional custom output panels were provided to ensure a flexible production environment, where fixtures could be easily moved or added for special events and holiday celebrations. Thinking outside the box, our team creatively used custom floor pockets to maximize space at each of the ledge lighting positions.
At the end of the project we were pleased to have met the goals of Crossroads Church – Uptown, to help them bring a new look to an old space, while preserving the character and history of the building.
The challenges of the project allowed us to display our commitment to providing quality lighting systems and excellent customer support. It was a great opportunity to demonstrate our knowledge of lighting technology, our skills as a systems integrator and the importance of our team members throughout the design, installation and system commissioning phases.