The Pool Room at the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City.
Jennifer Calais Smith The Pool Room at the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City.

I truly appreciated your editorial “Can Lighting’s Past Be Saved?” (July/August 2016). While we lighting designers practice the most ephemeral and abstract aspect of the architectural design profession, we all hope that our lighting projects endure. Although we know the likelihood that most of our work will be churned out of existence at some point, there are some iconic designs that we will go out of our way to view. One of those was Richard Kelly’s design for the Four Seasons in the Seagram Building (shown) as well as Edison Price’s remarkable lighting system. I expect that all of us have a list of lighting installations that we consider precious and feel are worth preserving or at least adapting to new, more durable technologies. Perhaps the Four Seasons will serve as our Pennsylvania Station—the spark that ignites our vocal advocacy for the preservation of lighting design masterworks in recognition of our contribution to the quality of the built environment.

Mark Loeffler, IALD, LEED fellow
Director, Atelier Ten Environmental Design Consultants + Lighting Designers, New Haven, Conn.

Hurrah! Your publication has noted an urgent need. Since 1983, Building Conservation International has been proposing to Lightfair and other national lighting conventions to present lectures on extending—with lighting—the life, value, and usefulness of existing historic properties erected prior to World War II. They have been rejected without explanation. Such training is also lacking in most institutions, except for Notre Dame University.

Retaining architectural “roots” to learn from and to enjoy is relevant today. It can eliminate each generation having to reinvent the wheel for empirical procedures developed over centuries of trial and error, once known, but now forgotten or no longer taught. This knowledge means profit, progress, and energy savings. Attractive “pre-war” real estate always commands a premium. With the shortage of empty space in cities, wise owner-developers are profitably revitalizing well-located, well-designed, and well-constructed pre-1940 structures. To needlessly level these buildings to erect taller, but inferior, ones that won’t last the mortgage is a waste of time, effort, energy, and money.

Gersil N. Kay, IESNA, AIA/HRC
Conservation Lighting International