Tavern on the Green has been one of New York City’s most famous destination restaurants for the past 80 years. Located in Central Park at West 67th Street, it reopened in 2014 after a top-to-bottom, multi-year renovation that restored the restaurant back to its glory days as the “Jewel of Central Park.”
An important goal of the courtyard redesign was how to re-create the look and feel of the iconic Crystal Room that overlooked the park, which was home to a group of London Plane trees that were wrapped in twinkling Christmas lights. Challenges abounded. First, the terrace trees no longer existed—they had been at the end of their life and removed during the first phases of the renovation. Second, the Central Park Conservancy had set new conditions that none of the newly planted trees could be pierced in any way by lighting elements that would prematurely age them.
After extensive studies and mock-ups, the design team at Focus Lighting developed a series of miniature chandeliers—500 in total—that have been strung to mimic the silhouette of the roof of a circus tent, and create a canopy of light against the sky every bit as effective and evocative as the illuminated trees that once were there. Each shade has a 3.5W 2400K LED lamp that provides an 86 percent reduction in energy use and a 10 percent increase in lumen output compared to a regular 25W incandescent lamp that would have been used pre-LEDs.
To provide additional lighting, pole-mounted custom glass lanterns with a frit were designed to provide an additional soft ambient light for the space. At the top of the poles, floodlights outfitted with blue LED accent luminaires and 4200K pattern projectors create a dappled moonlight effect on the slate roof of the existing building, which was designed in 1870 by architect Calvert Vaux in the Gothic Revival architectural style and was home to the sheep who grazed in the park’s nearby meadow.
Layers of light are carefully sculpted for this new outdoor space as it pays homage to the iconic setting by way of a contemporary lighting solution.
Project: Tavern on the Green, New York • Client: Emerald Green Group • Architects: Richard H. Lewis Architect, New York; Swanke Hayden Connell Architects, New York • Landscape Architect: Robin Key Landscape Architecture, New York • Lighting Designer: Focus Lighting and KB Associates, New York • Team Members: Paul Gregory, Ken Billington, Christine Hope, Brett Andersen, Hilary Manners, Valentina Doro, Dan Nichols, Andrew Balmer • Photographer: Ryan Fischer/Focus Lighting • Project Size: 10,000 square feet • Project and Lighting Costs: Withheld • Watts per Square Foot: 1W (exterior) • Code Compliance: Not Applicable • Manufacturers (exterior only): Archipelago Lighting, B-K Lighting, Canopy Designs, Dabmar Lighting, HK USA Lighting Group, Lumid, Philips, Eaton/Lumiere, Luminii, Primus Lighting, Visual Lighting Technologies, Vision Quest Lighting
• The lighting creates a new iconic imagery and creates a sense of place for this outdoor room.