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.