Almost every element of a campus lighting system eventually wears out or becomes obsolete. Replacing these elements piece by piece is not likely to result in a unified, well-designed lighting system. Master planning can help set a precedent and establish guidelines so that incremental changes do not lead to visual chaos and fragmentation.
Lighting master planning should not be done on a whim or personal preference. The designs must be based on research, history and the principles of human perception if they are to provide a clear blueprint for future growth. A lighting master plan is likely to deal with the entire visual environment, because that is the sole purpose for providing light. A plan cannot focus only on the technical aspects of illuminating paths and streets. It also must create appealing environments for people: exciting and attractive places where people can feel safe and secure. It should have a common-sense, humanistic approach with technical backup.
Street lighting beginnings
In today's society it would be unthinkable not to light a campus or city; yet that wasn't the case in 1417, when the mayor of London made the first known attempt at comprehensive street lighting in the western world. He ordered that lanterns be placed in front of every home on winter evenings. The citizens felt their taxes were high enough so they put out the lanterns but did not light them. Along with the expense, not everyone considered municipal lighting desirable. Some common complaints about municipal lighting in the 1400s:
Strong religious and social resistance; it is interfering with the divine plan.
Those who were out at night were most likely evil.
If it was necessary to be out at night, God would provide a moon.
Illuminating the streets would induce people to stay outside at night, leading to colds and other ailments.
Drunkenness and depravity would increase.
The light would aid thieves while all the good people slept.
The next attempt at lighting streets was not made until 1736, when London installed 5,000 oil lamps. The response was so favorable that by 1738 London had 15,000 oil lamps in the streets.
Many advances in street lighting occurred over the next 270 years. Cities and campuses were illuminated with oil lamps, gas lamps, incandescent and various electric-discharge lamps. The technical aspects of this revolution may be interesting to some, but the social implications are significant for everyone. Churches began holding services after dark; restaurants served dinner into the evening; theater and lectures became a nighttime event. Over the past 200 years lighting has changed the entire social structure and schedule; exterior lighting has become a necessity rather than a luxury.