Welland’s Main Street Bridge is just one of many projects in Canada and elsewhere bearing the imprint of Marcel Dion and his firm, Marcel Dion Lighting Design. Based in Toronto, Dion is an active professional member of International Association of Lighting Designers, and a board member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America’s Toronto section. He is Lighting Certified and a LEED Accredited Professional.
Prior to establishing his firm, Dion worked for Fisher Marantz Stone in New York City, where he was involved in multiple global lighting projects from sectors including residential, hospitality, commercial interiors, retail, entertainment and landscape lighting.
A graduate from Algonquin College’s Interior Design program, Dion applies 10 years of lighting design experience and 5 years of interior design to facilitate the communication of ideas and design between his clients, drawing on an ability to speak the “design” language and solve design challenges with technical solutions.
A list of projects and awards appears below. But first, LDS asked Dion these questions.
1. How did you come to be involved in the Main St. Bridge project?
In late 2013 when attending Toronto’s Construct Canada conference, I met an architect from Welland. Conversation quickly turned to the town’s beloved icon, which was in the midst of a refurbishment project. Discussion swirled around the idea of lighting the bridge, and how highlighting this local gem would impact the city.
Three months later, after ongoing discussions and the birth of a vision for illuminating Bridge 13, Welland’s heritage board and local Business Improvement Area invited MDLD to present its proposal. The Board, accompanied by the mayor, was unanimously enthralled by the potential of the project and ready to engage the citizens of Welland and the Niagara Region to move forward.
2. Why was it important to you to be involved?
The bridge was in the process of being restored. It was time to light it and return it to its full splendour — 24 hours a day. It was time to transform the Main Street Bridge from a utilitarian bridge that people walk or drive on to a showcase that celebrates the city.
3. Why did you choose to donate your time?
I couldn’t charge for this; I have wanted to light the (my) bridge for a very long time. I am proud to be able to use my skills to give back to the community where I grew up.
4. From your perspective as a lighting designer, and someone who grew up seeing the bridge from his own backyard, what does this project contribute to the community?
The bridge is now recognized, celebrated and provides a solid focal point in the city. It is now a “new” bridge for citizens to enjoy for years to come. We have seen an increasing social media trend of people posting photos of the different events, colour schemes and “selfies” with the bridge. It has been a tremendous success so far and the citizens are now engaged once again with their bridge, the icon of the city.
5. What project(s) are you working on now?
I’m currently working on projects from coast to coast. I’m working on The Halifax Convention Centre utilizing my skill and knowledge on exterior, architectural and interior areas. Also many retail projects in the city and outside the province, A four-storey office building in Calgary where I’m involved on the main public and staff areas and three spaces (main lobby, bar and restaurant) at the new Trump Tower in Vancouver.
6. What recent projects by other lighting designers have really impressed you?
I’m a big fan of the lighting at the top of the Aura Condominium in Toronto. It has changed our skyline in a fantastic way. The solution is elegant, appropriate and simple.
7. What three pieces of advice would you give to a lighting designer working on his or her first international project?
My three pieces of advice would be for any project. Lighting is only one aspect of the design. Although we do think it is the most important because, without light, we can’t see or appreciate what the design is. 1) Listen to the design team. Lighting is a response to the design, materials and story, and should always complement it. 2) Be knowledgeable in as many disciplines of design as you can. Be it architecture, interior design, landscape, engineering and even construction. Post design phase is as important as the design phase. 3) Play with light, mock-up anything you can anywhere. Understand what light can and cannot do.
8. What recent industry trends or developments have captured your interest and imagination?
Controls have seen a jump of sophistication lately. It’s great to see controls as part of the design discussion early as it gives us another tool. Controls will not only reduce energy use in building and spaces, but I use controls to refine and to shape the design at a later time. Project schedules are getting shorter and shorter and this allows us the flexibility to better enhance the final results or future uses.
9. If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?
I would like the Architectural Lighting Designer to be recognized as a profession and to have better support from the Architectural design community. Lighting is more complex and expensive than ever. The relative small fee for a lighting designer on any team compared to the cost of the lighting fixtures will reward the client and design team with good lighting that reflects their vision. Many Architectural Lighting Designers like myself follow the codes and ethics of IALD (International Association of Lighting Designers) and are never in conflict or restricted by using certain products.
Here is a partial list of completed projects:
• Davids + Duet @Sherway Gardens with Burdifilek
• Environics Research Group office and lobby renovation with IN8 Design
• Bell Toronto Eaton Centre with Burdifilek
• Brookfield Place Yonge + Wellington Heritage Facade, Toronto, with Goldsmith Borgal & Company Architects
• Copacabana Restaurant with Giannone Petricone Associates
• 609 Grandville Vancouver B.Cinterior and exterior lighting with Cadillac Fairview and Burdifilek
• Brookfield Place LED lighting upgrades
• James Street Plaza exterior lighting with IBI Group
• Old Main Academic Building Addition — Thompson Rivers University with Diamond Schmitt Architects
• Toronto General Hospital Landscape Lighting with HOK
• Equinox Fitness Club with Burdifilek
• CN Tower Plaza with IBI Group / Graham
• Brookfield Place Lobbies and Concourse
• Hockey Hall of Fame sculpture lighting
• Grace Kelly: from Movie Star to Princess – An Exhibit at TIFF Lightbox with Barr Gilmore Art + Design and TIFF
• Allen Lambert Galleria + Sam Pollock Square at Brookfield Place, Lighting Design and Upgrades with B+H Architects
• The Notan House in Toronto with AKB Architects
• 2015 Illuminating Engineering Society Award of Merit and Toronto Section award —Yonge and Wellington Heritage Facades
• 2013 Illuminating Engineering Society Award of Merit and Toronto Section award — Brookfield Place Allen Lambert Galleria and Sam Pollock Square
• 2013 Illuminating Engineering Society Award of Merit and Toronto Section Energy and Environmental Design Award — Brookfield Place Lobbies
• 2012 Illuminating Engineering Society Toronto Section Illumination Cutler award — The Notan Residence
• 2012 Illuminating Engineering Society Toronto Section Illumination Guth award 2012 — Grace Kelly: from Movie Star to Princess – an exhibition
Find out more about Marcel Dion Lighting Design: www.marceldion.ca