Launch Slideshow

Utah State Capitol Restoration

Utah State Capitol Restoration

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    Utah Historical Society

    The Utah State Capitol was designed by Utah architect Richard K.A. Kletting in 1912 and completed in 1916.

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    Capitolshots Photography

    A view of the capitol building at night.

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    Capitolshots Photography

    The building’s exterior nighttime lighting composition sought to reproduce the architect’s original design concept, while adopting current lighting and lighting control technologies. The 300-foot dome is gently, yet precisely illuminated from rooftop corners with tightly controlled 400W metal halide floodlights. Uplighting of the dome’s interior is accomplished with 70W ceramic discharge metal halide lamps and in turn provides a warm backlighting of the lower drum’s exterior windows. Balustrade concealed 70W ceramic discharge metal halide lamps wash the upper drum, while recreations of original etched globes silhouette the portico columns.

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    Rambusch Lighting

    The Capitol’s interior provided a wealth of opportunities for creative lighting restoration. Original lumimaires, whose identities were known only through archival photographs, were recreated by “harvesting” ornamental architectural castings from the surviving lighting fixtures. Metal work details were captured through a lost wax casting process allowing for new parts/pieces to be fabricated and used to assemble the original designs.

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    Rambusch Lighting

    The surviving luminaire families yielded a wealth of decorative castings enabling the recreation of several of the Capitol’s previously extinct designs.

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    Dunn Communications

    Fully dimmable, cove-concealed, UV-filtered T5HO uplights ceilings and restored murals throughout. The building’s ornamental architectural luminaries had to be adapted as principal functional sources. With over 30 different ceiling heights, optical needs varied widely by location.

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    Dunn Communications

    Surmounting the technical challenges, eight interchangeable, multi-lamp (compact fluorescent and ceramic discharge metal halide) flexible reflector assemblies were designed to fit the majority of historic luminaires. Each assembly provided a unique upward distribution, directed spill light into the luminaire’s decorative glass, permitted fine-tuning of room illuminances, all while articulating the volume’s architectural detail. By fully concealing all of the modern sources, the original character and design of each fixture was retained.

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    Dunn Communications

    The cut crystal luminaires of the ceremonial Gold Room provided concealment opportunities for miniature halogen uplights.

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    Dunn Communications

    In the Chambers, supplemental illumination for nighttime conditions comes from a directional backlighting system above the lay-lights. New steel frames alongside each lay–light stage T5HO asymmetric fluorescent luminaries, cross-focused onto the lay-light’s diffusion film backing. Based on each Chamber’s needs, the fluorescent fixtures are dimmed to provide predetermined illuminances. Photocell-controlled dimming of the historic luminaires monitors and adjusts their luminances providing visual balance with the lay-light intensities.

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    Capitolshots Photography

    The Rotunda is dramatically lit with layers of directional light. Oblique 70W ceramic discharge metal halide precision floodlights, concealed in the non-public whisper gallery, articulate the dome’s relief from its spring point, with the central grand chandelier floating below.

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    Capitolshots Photography

    The completely restored 3,000 pound chandelier features induction lamp sources, which provide soft light for the historic glass shades, while concealed 70W ceramic discharge metal halide PAR lamps project light into the dome’s apex fresco. Lenses near the glass shades’ rims “siphon” light from the historic bowls’ uplight distribution and redirect to murals at the drum’s base.

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    Capitolshots Photography

    The lighting solutions fulfilled the established design goals while consuming 65 percent less energy than previous lighting schemes.

 

A true testament to the process of collaboration, the restoration of the Utah State Capitol—exterior and interior—would not be the success that it is had it not been for the team's dedicated efforts from the project's earliest planning stages. The Beaux Arts–influenced building is home to one of the finest collections of early 20th century architectural lighting. But before the team, including lighting designer Randy Burkett, could embark on the restoration, they had to evaluate the range of historic light fittings and decide how they would both restore original luminaires and upgrade the lighting to meet 21st century standards. To that end, Burkett enlisted Edwin Rambusch of Rambusch Lighting as a design assist consultant so that the lighting restoration work and the recreation of historic fixtures could be properly assessed for scope of work and budget.

The first order of business was to illuminate the exterior. The 300-foot-tall dome is softly, but precisely, lit from the rooftop corners with 400W metal halide floodlights. Additional layers of illumination highlight the lower portion of the dome's drum and portico of Corinthian capitals on the façade.

For the interior, luminaires were recreated using archival photographs as reference and working from the extant decorative castings. The team always gave thought to both the look of the fixture as well as the quality of light emanating from it. To address the vast array of luminaires and variable conditions, eight interchangeable, multilamp reflector assemblies were designed to work with compact fluorescent, ceramic metal halide discharge, and halogen sources. More than 10 years in the making, the restoration of the Utah State Capitol celebrates light across the ages.

Jury Comments: The scope of the project and the project delivery is unique. • There is an extraordinary attention to detail in creating a lighting strategy that is sensitive to the historic architectural context. • A true collaborative effort.