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LaBella’s Athletic Field Lighting Recognized by Illuminating Engineering Society

LaBella Associates was presented with the Harley Hill Excellence in Lighting Award for the Exterior Category by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) of Rochester for the second year in a row! This year we were honored for the sports lighting design at the new athletic field at Thornell Farm Park in the Town of Pittsford, New York.


LaBella was selected by the Town of Pittsford in 2013 to design improvements to existing athletic fields and construct new athletic fields at four parks throughout the Town. This project was designed in response to a high demand for athletic field space. LaBella provided professional services that included civil/site engineering, architectural design, SEQR services, topographic survey, landscape architecture, and construction administration. Three years later, construction is nearly complete. Final restoration is expected to be completed in the spring 2017.

The IES award recognized LaBella’s work at Thornell Farm Park. A new synthetic turf field with pedestrian and athletic field lighting was installed. Three new natural grass fields with drainage and irrigation were also constructed. All of the fields will be used for soccer and lacrosse competition. To bring the site together and create a flexible space, walkways along and between the fields as well as a new pavilion were also constructed. The project also included upgrades to the parking, restrooms and concessions building. Soccer players got to play their first game on the synthetic turf field this past summer. The grass fields will be ready for action in 2017.

New exterior lighting was required for parking lots, pathways, and the athletic surfaces. Site lighting included light bollards for walkway lighting. The parking lot used new LED light poles and the sports fields used metal halide lamps in sports flood lights by MUSCO.

The award submission concentrated on the athletic facility’s lighting solution. One of the challenges in lighting a sports field is achieving uniformity across the field. There should be minimal difference in light between the goals, corners, or center of the field. The design delivered a target average illuminance level of 50 horizontal foot-candles and better than 15 vertical foot-candles on a plain at 36 inches above the playing surface.

Another challenge in developing athletic lighting is controlling spill light and glare. Spill light is when the light “spills” beyond the footprint of what is intended to be illuminated. It’s undesirable to neighboring properties. Glare is a consideration for both spectators and athletes – each need to be able to see the ball in the air. Both spill light and glare can be addressed by raising the height of the light fixtures. Forty foot poles were utilized at the tennis courts and 80 foot poles were utilized at the soccer/lacrosse field. The luminaires also have an optical assembly of internal louvers and external baffles to help minimize spill light and glare.

Digital lighting control provides the owner remote control capability via cell phone or a web/mobile accessible site. The Town of Pittsford set up a predetermined schedule to turn the lights on and off. However, if play is cancelled or game time revised, a call to the website can revise the on/off time without the owner having to go to the park. Schedules are stored on site with back-up at the Central Control Link.

Each year, the Rochester Section of IES recognizes excellence in design for local lighting projects. Harley Hill was well known in the local industry and very active in this organization. These awards have been named in tribute to him and signifies the best lighting project as submitted by local firms and as judged by members of the lighting community.