The Equitable Building, built in 1912, expressed quintessential early 20th Century Neo-classicism, designed by Frederick B. Pyle and Arthur B. Heaton. After the building went into disuse, it has been repositioned largely as a night club in a few manifestations. After being added to the National Register of Historic Places, it finally has received a significant restoration that was coupled with a use as an Asian-New Orleans restaurant fusion.
Goals and Outcomes As a historic restoration and re-use project, the challenges associated with the interior lighting design objectives were largely subject to two major constraints: 1. Minimal invasion of the historic fabric of the historic atrium and exterior facade; 2. Sympathetic lighting design allusion to the restaurant brand. We established two objectives: volumetric and formal expression of the historic architecture; and engaged flattery of individual diners and respective table or bar settings. Performance goals for the interior included: uplighting atrium vault, accenting historic pilasters, delineating edges with light, and spotlighting tables. Goals were met with the use of concealed and shielded sources. Decorative sources played a role in performance, serving as sparkle and shine while also illuminating patrons and food. The exterior facade, elegantly manifest in carved limestone, demanded some illumination at night that would ideally replicate the effect of the sun's direct wash from above. As a collaborative effort, the design team unilaterally agreed to pursue a means of illuminating the monumental portico from above. We developed a scheme that integrated cantilevered linear LED wallwashers that dramatically presents the building to the streetscape.
Collaboration We worked closely with the architect and owner to integrate interior lighting systems into the project. We developed a surface mounted multi-circuit track system cantilever-mounted along the skylight opening that allowed for spotlighting tables and accenting the historic interior pillaster capitals. These same fluted pillasters, where interupted by a new mezzanine floor that wrapped around three sides of the atrium, were grazed by LED strips mounted in a concealed slot, allowing for effective uplight-grazing and downlight-grazing. We developed several details with the architect for integrating the track, as well as a variety of other integration details associated with backbar shelving, underbar accent lighting, stair tread lighting, and several cove conditions. Ingenuity Given the owner's strong preference for a warmer color of light, the familarity of incandescent and halogen sources, coupled with energy conservation as well as maintenance objectives, many of the sources have color changing capability relative to "white" light. It was established early on that with the use of LED, it was important to the owners that the patrons would "look good" and have warm white light at their respective seating. Color changing sources with very high color rendering were specified for all tables, and along select coves to establish the objective for "warmth".
Synthesis For the exterior facade lighting system, a cantilevered integration of the hardware was established to effectively accent the facade from the dentil details down. The intersection of offset: height of facade, coupled with the cutoff at the dentil strip was a clever result.