THE ROOKERY, CHICAGO
Saturday 31 Mar 2012

 

Award banner

Lighting transforms Chicago Landmark building

The Rookery is one of the greatest surviving examples of early commercial skyscrapers. For over a century, the building's distinctive dark red masonry facades have been unlit, making it visually disappear at night.

Lighting now transforms the building from a shadowy silhouette into a nocturnal presence as one of Chicago's beloved landmarks, restoring it's vibrancy and commerce for visitors. While the building appears symmetrical, every window condition is unique. Each ledge has a different stepped profile and terracotta ribs at stone joints throughout (in no specific rhythm) make the use of long linear luminaires impossible. Miniature, custom 14-watt LED luminaire modules are individually positioned (based on the rib locations) to strategically graze the richly detailed facades with a soft veil of light.

This activates the architecture in a sustainable, historically sensitive manner - instead of casino-style pin-spotting. Micro-optics create a flattened cone of illumination extending three stories high, without light trespassing into the night sky, and eliminating glare for tenants. An astronomic timeclock further reduces energy during late evening hours.

This forward-thinking design is a cost effective alternative to linear products, eliminating the need and cost for long extrusions, and useful for similar applications worldwide. A 3,000K warm white color temperature enhances the distinctive red color of the intricate masonry. To meet historic preservation requirements, all lighting hardware is meticulously concealed from pedestrian view and street lines-of-sight, utilizing luminaires only 36.8mm high.

To protect the integrity of the building, a custom mounting arm anchors luminaires to the window sills instead of the faCade and polyurethane feet minimize direct contact with the historically-designated ledges. The armâ??s telescoping design is finished Rookery-red and allows for lockable field adjustment and aiming. The elegant and restrained nighttime identity links it to the time of its creation, emphasizing the beauty and importance of its architecture.