Launch Slideshow

The Morgan Library & Museum, McKim Building Restoration, New York

The Morgan Library & Museum, McKim Building Restoration, New York

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    Graham Haber

    The design goals for this interior landmarked museum employed technological and energy-efficient lighting upgrades to discretely reinforce the architecture with concealed fixtures, refurbish historical fittings and incorporate new exhibits. A view of what was once the original entrance.
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    Graham Haber

    What was once the original entrance was transformed with new lighting integrated into the roof structure beyond the oculus. Low-iron glass panels, suspended above the existing glass lens allowed narrow-beam halogens to illuminate the marble walls and displays. The painted ceiling and wall frescoes, previously lit with T12 fluorescent channels, were replaced with two zones of dimmable T8s. Fiber-optics, which are detailed into newly fabricated cases, highlight the collection.
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    Graham Haber

    The former Director’s office, never opened to the public, has now become a gallery. Ground floor bookcases were fitted with removable cases using dimmable fluorescent and LED accents for display.
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    Graham Haber

    At the mezzanine, LEDs at the glass floor uplight the bookcases. Semi-concealed AR111 lamps highlight art objects in the room. Freestanding cases include fiber optics for internal lighting and accommodate ALR12 to accent the painted ceiling.
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    Graham Haber

    To balance uneven lighting in the study, low-voltage track replaced an antiquated system. Carefully aimed MR16 lamps now focus on the walls, furnishing, and art.
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    Graham Haber

    The vault, now open for display, glows with ambient fluorescent and accent halogen lamps.
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    In the library, mock-ups juxtaposed with the existing conditions affirmed the design solutions at each of three bookcase tiers.
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    Graham Haber

    Visible track fixtures and poor color-rendering T12 fluorescents had diminished the luster of the room.
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    Graham Haber

    LED strips with a custom baffle at the first bookcase tier are fit within the old existing fluorescent housings. The second and third bookcase tiers are lit from the glass floor to shield the upward gaze.
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    Graham Haber

    After 70 years, the original pendant was reinstalled. High color-rendering lamps have revitalized the tapestry and art objects. With the restoration and preservation complete, these four unique spaces have been renewed to the grandeur of decades past.
 

J.P. Morgan's mansion at the corner of Madison Avenue and East 36th Street was the first electrically lit private residence in New York City, a feat the banking mogul took great pride in. Today, with the recent restoration of the library he built from 1902 to 1906, designed by McKim, Mead & White, he would no doubt be equally pleased to see the success of its illuminated interiors thanks to an accomplished lighting scheme that draws on new technologies.

Lighting consultants Renfro Design Group had a challenging task before them. They had to provide the landmarked museum interiors with energy-efficient lighting upgrades, while discreetly locating fixtures without disturbing the existing architecture.

The lighting designers started by replacing the T12 fluorescent channels in the former entrance with two zones of dimmable T8s to illuminate the painted ceiling and wall frescoes. The former director's office, never before opened to the public, has been converted into a gallery where bookcases are equipped with dimmable fluorescents and LED accent lights for displays. Freestanding cases employ fiber optics for internal illumination and house ALR12 lamps to highlight the painted ceiling.

But perhaps the most significant transformation is in the library itself. Prior to the renovation, visible track fixtures and T12 lamps left the library dark and spotty. Extensive mock-ups led the designers to a solution that used LEDs. A custom baffle at the first tier is fit within the old fluorescent housings, while the second and third tiers are lit from the glass floor of the catwalk to shield the sources from viewer sight lines. The overall result is a restored grandeur of architecture and light.

Jury Comments: There's a lot of technical finesse and degree of difficulty in illuminating these spaces given the historic setting.