Thursday, May 28, 2009


From the International Association of Lighting Designers:


The Texas State Legislature passed legislation this morning, 27 May 2009, which will have the unintended consequence of outlawing the practice of lighting design within its borders.

As it is currently written, Texas House Bill 2649 (THB2649) prohibits lighting designers who work in Texas to work on projects without being licensed as either an electrician, architect, engineer, landscape architect or interior designer.

The IALD strongly urges the Texas Senate Business & Commerce Committee remove language restrictive to the profession in THB2649 as a "technical adjustment" when the bill is prepared for Gov. Rick Perry's signature, or the eventual veto of the bill by the Governor should no changes in language be made.

More here.

So I've often railed against the deregulation regime the US has been dealing with since the Reagan era. You know the usual argument, that deregulation tends to help business at the expense of consumers and workers, and this is often true. But I always try to make the point that sometimes regulation is just plain stupid, bad for everybody. This bill in the Texas Ledge is a case in point.

I received this email a little while ago from my old pal Jim, with whom I attended the University of Texas, and with whom I stayed in Atlanta when I evacuated New Orleans for Hurricane Gustav:

Dear all,

Sorry to spam you, but I need a favor. As most of you know, I am an architectural lighting designer by profession. In Texas, the legislature passed a bill yesterday that outlaws my profession in that state as such, requiring all lighting design to be performed by engineers, architects, or interior designers (my background is in theatrical lighting, as is the case with about 70% of architectural lighting designers). These are different trades than lighting design and all of those trades rely on lighting designers for advice on how to best illuminate their projects in an aesthetically pleasing, energy efficient manner. If professional lighting designers are not allowed to practice in Texas, you can be quite sure that Texans will end up with a less attractive world in which to wander around. We are also concerned as Texas is a state which other states watch for legislative initiatives, so has the potential for more far-reaching effects.

Here are but a few of the projects that I'm aware of in Texas that were designed by professional lighting designers without architectural, engineering, or interior design credentials:

The State Capitol
The Alamo
Frost Bank, Austin
Reliant Stadium
San Antonio River Link
Carver Center for the Arts, San Antonio
Austin and Houston airports
Texas Children's Hospital (we are working on that one right now)
Texas Heart Institute
MD Anderson
Baylor College of Medicine
University of Texas Austin and San Antonio, various projects
Rothko Chapel
Fresco Chapel
Cy Twombly
San Jacinto Monument
etc, etc, etc

Basically put, every major project in Texas and in most parts of the rest of the developed world uses our services or those of our peers in the industry. Remember those groovy lights on the outside of the Beijing Olympics natatorium or on the Bird's Nest? NOT designed by an engineer.

So... I'm writing to ask a favor, in particular from those of you who reside in Texas, but also from the rest of you:

Can you please send an email or make a call or send a fax or scream from the rooftops to express your displeasure with the lighting design amendment tacked on to House Bill 2649? The information for contacts is at the bottom of the forwarded email below (See link above for this--Ron). The bill goes into conference committee tomorrow, and if the lighting design amendment is allowed to stay in the bill, only a veto can stop the state from outlawing the profession, so please at least harass Representative Smith and Governor Perry. Please also forward this to others you know who might help. I'd really like this issue to go viral very quickly.

Thank you very much in advance for your help on this issue.


For more information on architectural lighting design, see or
Any Texas voters out there, go do your thing if you are inclined. Lighting design is an extraordinarily cool field, and it would be insane to simply regulate it into the ether.


Thank you very much to those who took action on this issue. Your efforts helped to convince the Texas Legislature to remove the offending amendment from the bill.