Tag Archives: Trevor Hollins

Designing Spaces Where Illumination Makes the Difference

August 21, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Trevor Hollins has a passion for how others see the world around them.

Specifically, he has a passion for how thoughtful design and lighting affects the environment people experience and how it shapes their impressions, emotions, and activity. 

Hollins is the lighting design studio lead at HDR’s Omaha architecture studio. He helped pioneer lighting design at HDR by advocating for it to shift from electrical engineering to the architecture studio. The move allows the lighting design team to work directly with architects and interior designers, improving the quality of the lighting and the overall design of structures.

“Good lighting design improves the way a user visually experiences architecture,” he says. “When you sit next to the people you are working on a project with, you are able to ask questions, bounce design ideas off of each other, and create better solutions to designs.”

The lighting design team works on projects in various stages of development, and they can be a resource for projects where the team is not directly involved, Hollins says. As part of the architecture studio, the team brings awareness of the latest advances in lighting and controls technology to projects, improving architects’ ability to stay within budget and meet other project requirements.

One of Hollins’ favorite projects is the Think Whole Person Healthcare facility near Aksarben Village, which features a six-story glass atrium that creates an inviting space for patients.“It is how we perceive architecture,” Hollins says. “It’s not putting out a cool lamp.”

“Lighting within that atrium had to be visually cohesive from floor to floor in order to connect all public-facing areas of the building together,” he says.

The design of the building uses the brain’s neural pathways as inspiration, Hollins says.

“The lighting design for the building reinforced this architectural concept in the atrium by highlighting major hubs of activity with illuminated rafts that reference an activated neuron,” he says. “Visiting the doctor can be a stressful time, and being able to help to create an inviting environment that reduces stress, and improves the patient experience and the ability of doctors to provide care, is
important to me.”

Hollins was recently honored for his contributions to his industry with Lighting magazine’s “40under40” award, which is organized in association with global lighting brand Osram. He was recognized alongside professionals from “high design cities” around the world, putting Omaha among the likes of London, New York, Singapore, and Stockholm. 

Andy Yosten, vice president and director of mechanical engineering at HDR, says Hollins has evangelized for lighting design.

“He truly understands the impact that our design can have on the human experience,” Yosten says. “It’s one thing if there is just one stand-alone great individual, but his ability to pass that knowledge on and influence others and help others see the impact that that light design can have is very special with Trevor.”

Clarence Waters, an architectural engineering professor at the University of Nebraska who has grown the program to national prominence, says Hollins has been an advocate for lighting design since graduating in 2004. Hollins regularly works with students, offering them feedback on projects and presentations. He also helps students looking to transition into the workplace.

“He’s very willing to give up his time,” Waters says. “HDR hires a lot of our students as interns, and Trevor is always mentoring those student interns who are working for HDR.”

As Hollins looks to continue to elevate lighting design in his industry and community, he hopes the next generation will recognize its potential to better illuminate our world.


Visit hdrinc.com for more information.

This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.

Trevor Hollins’ Giving Tree Mural

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Trevor Hollins decided he wanted to paint a mural in son Logan’s bedroom in their West Omaha home, he found inspiration in a favorite read from his own childhood: Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. The book’s cover illustration features a young boy catching an apple being dropped by a large, leafy tree.

“I liked reading Shel Silverstein books growing up and going back, reading the story as an adult, I became aware of the deeper themes of these books—selflessness, the human condition, cherishing the earth…” Hollins says. “Everyone is both the tree and the boy at some time in their life.”

To create the mural, Hollins used a technique his mother, an artist, had used to create a mural years ago. “I remember her using a crude image projector, which was basically a box with a mirror that would project whatever image was placed into the box onto a surface,” he says. “I got to thinking, I could have a lot more control over the image if I used a digital projector, so I used a digital camera to take a picture of the cover of the book. Then, using a laptop, I was able to scale and orient the image on the wall. Once I had the image projected, it was simply a matter of tracing over the lines of the image.” No problem for Hollins, an electrical engineer with HDR who works with computer-generated images daily.

With the help of his brother, Greg, Hollins traced the outline using paintbrushes and black latex paint, then filled in the apple and the boy’s overalls with red paint to replicate the color illustration. In all, the project cost him and Greg about six hours of their weekend and less than $50 in supplies.

One lesson the Hollins brothers learned the hard way was that the right tools make all the difference. “Having the correct brush type for this project is important. My brother and I originally started the project with some old paintbrushes I already had. We realized early on we needed fine brushes to do the job right, and so we spent a good amount of time wandering the aisles of Hobby Lobby searching for the perfect brushes,” he confesses.

Since the completion of the mural, Hollins and wife Alicia have decorated the rest of Logan’s room with other storybook themes: Curious George sheets now dress his bed, and an artwork purchased on Etsy creatively displays a whimsical illustration from the Dr. Seuss book And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street.

Hollins says he hopes The Giving Tree mural will instill in his son an appreciation for Silverstein’s books. “Right now, [to Logan] it’s just a cool picture of a tree handing an apple to the little boy, as it was to me when I was his age. Hopefully, years from now, he will find the message meaningful.”