Story by Tom Snider
The BYU-Idaho Center is home to BYU-I’s devotionals. The auditorium is modeled to be a scaled-down version of the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Like its inspiration, it requires a lot of technical work to have things run smoothly. A unique aspect of the I-Center is its elaborate lighting system.
Braden Howard is the lighting designer for BYU-I.
“The lighting system in the I-Center is the biggest, and the thing that makes it unique is that it is huge,” Howard said. “It’s about two-thirds the size, or sorry, three times the size of a Broadway show as far as number of circuits. We are up in the 3000s range. Then we have moving lights on top of that. It’s just big stage, so all the concepts are the same. It’s just massive.”
Devotional alone uses about 850 fixtures that run at 750 watts a piece. The capacity available to the I-Center is 10,000 amps. This last year, the school has been able to decrease the cost of powering this behemoth.
“They re-built the heat plant, which doesn’t seem would be related to the I-Center per say, but we generate our own power based on the excess steam that we create in the heat plant, so that puts this building kind of off the grid at times,” Howard said.
All of the lights in the I-Center, John W. Hart Building and Oscar A. Kirkham Building have been centralized onto one network. This way, if something goes wrong, Howard or his partner, Patrick Kelly, can control the lighting system from their own computer and even their phones.
I asked Howard: “Why would the school invest in such a high-tech system for a building that primarily hosts devotionals?”
“The original design of this building, it was just a big Hart Building — a big gym with a temporary stage at one end,” Howard said. “President Hinckley had something else in mind. He wanted a broadcast facility. He wanted the 15,000 seats to be here. So in order to do that, to be a broadcasting facility, we needed a full broadcasting lighting system.”
This advanced lighting system is all for the students.
“The leadership of the Church, they put a lot of resources into BYU-Idaho because they believe the students can achieve,” Howard said. “They are doing it with a wise purpose in mind. That’s the impact to me. I don’t think a lot of people realize what we have here.”