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“This six-inch architectural scale has been my utility companion for my creative years. It’s almost become a security blanket—even though now, with experience, I can eyeball things. I still carry it with me; it’s  been with me all over the world.”


“This six-inch architectural scale has been my utility companion for my creative years. It's almost become a security blanket—even though now, with experience, I can eyeball things. I still carry it with me; it's  been with me all over the world.”


“These birds are wonderful reminders of the wildlife in Tanzania. The work that I did there was all about minimizing infrastructure in the parks and keeping them natural—to keep the experience wild.”


“This light bulb from the island of Zanzibar caught my eye because it represents a dichotomy in technologies. It takes our current incandescent bulb and converts it to an oil lamp using recycled materials—obviously for places that are off the grid.”

Picture this: in the White House Rose Garden, pendants hang from 150-foot-tall historic magnolia trees, creating a mottled effect on the lawn below. Lights shine upwards to ground the regal trees. An understated lighting system illuminates the foreground—all thanks to Ed Nieto, who was commissioned to revamp the lighting in our nation's most famous garden. “The design was about giving the garden presence at night,” Nieto says. “We didn't want the drama of Hollywood. The effect was very quiet and elegant.”

Throughout his 32-year career with the National Park Service, the architect and illumination specialist has designed lighting for some of the most remarkable places across the nation and around the globe. Nieto helped plan Panama's first national park, adjacent to the canal. In Africa, he helped design a national park that respects the wild landscape.

Both at home and abroad, Nieto believes in achieving energy efficiency without sacrificing quality. Right now, he is especially excited about LED technology. “Cutting-edge technology like LED lighting offers incredible opportunities. The energy savings is just amazing,” he says. From his Denver home, where the lighting designer is starting to integrate LED technology, to the White House, which he recently helped re-light with LED, Nieto continues to spread his passion for eco-sensitive, beautiful lighting design. But if he had his wish, you wouldn't even notice his work. Good lighting is understated, he says—highlighting only what is necessary and celebrating the natural or historic beauty of a place.

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