Diagonal stripes
LD+A The Magazine of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America

Lamps & Fixtures in the Field  

Revisionist History

Designers were not chained to the past when remaking a fire-ravaged building at a prestigious prep school in New York

By Paul Tarricone


R estoration of historic buildings often means strict adherence to the past: Search the archive, study old photos and faithfully re-create what was in place for decades if not centuries.

The venerable Hackley School in Tarrytown, NY, however, chose not to look at the future through the rearview mirror after a fire destroyed much of the 105-year-old Goodhue Memorial Hall in August 2007. Administrators at the private school in suburban New York essentially gave architect Peter Gisolfi Associates, Hastings on Hudson, NY, free rein when designing the new hall. No photos, no trip to the archive, no tethers to the past. While the surviving exterior stone walls remain in place on the façade and the cupola was rebuilt to match the original in appearance, there were virtually no constraints put on the designers when reimaging the interior space, says Ken Pojman, associate partner, Peter Gisolfi Associates.

The 2007 fire was sparked by an intense lightning storm; more than 27,000 volumes, artwork, non-book resources (CDs, DVDs, videos, magazines), computers and supplies were lost. Both side wings of the hall were also destroyed as the fire gutted the roof and interiors. Out of the ashes, however, rose the opportunity to create a more sustainable building dominated by daylight, most notably in the library where natural light pours through large north- and south-facing windows and clerestories.

With the idea of daylight in place, Peter Gisolfi Associates called in Karen Goldstick, Goldstick Lighting Design, White Plains, NY, to craft a plan for the electric lighting. The collaboration earned the firms a 2010 GE Edison Award of Merit and a 2011 IES Illumination Award of Merit for the LEED Gold-registered building, which uses only 1.1 watts per sq ft.

The second-floor library/media resource center is the focal point of the new Goodhue Hall, which was expanded from 12,000 sqft to 22,000 sqft during the reconstruction. “The library is always filled when school is in session,” says Porjman. It’s also markedly different from its predecessor—and there are pictures to prove it. A vintage photo now on display in the new library shows the round chandeliers and table lamps that characterized the previous design. Goldstick proposed adding table lamps for the librarian’s table, but the school rejected the idea in order to keep the space more open. The white painted wood finishes in the previous library have also been replaced by oak “for a more collegiate look, consistent with the school’s aesthetic,” says Pojman.

In addition to the expansive windows and clerestories, the architect’s initial concept called for three rows of large cylinder pendants descending from the library’s barrel vault ceiling. That’s where Goldstick’s expertise came in. “We didn’t just say, ‘we’ll hang the cylinders and we’re done,’ “ she explains.

Goldstick’s solution was to create layers of light. The three rows of pendants were reduced to two leaving ample wattage to add uplighting for the elegant ceiling that was designed into coves as well as wall washers to graze the stacks. “The electric lighting had to respond to and balance the over abundance of daylighting,” says Goldstick. Color-corrected lamps, with 6,000-hour or more life for reduced maintenance, are used throughout to provide high-color rendering, while the 3,000K color temperature enhances the oak furniture and detailing.

The most dramatic lighting element in the library are the custom cylinder pendants (Visa Lighting), which offer independently controlled downlight and ambient illumination, and provide 75 footcandles (task) and 50 fc ambient illumination with all lamps at full output. GE 39-W ceramic metal halide downlights and 39-W fluorescent lamps form the tandem. Aesthetically, the detailing of the luminaires underscores the building’s original neoclassical architecture.

Next, the design team was intent on integrating lighting with the architecture. A cavity hidden behind the perimeter stacks on facing walls houses cove fixtures (Day-o-Lite) with two independently controlled (54-W and 80-W) GE T5HO lamps. These fixtures wash light across the ceiling to emphasize the architecture, while strategically reducing contrast ratios. Light levels may be manually adjusted based on available daylight.

Last, the stacks are grazed by adjustable fixtures (Architectural Lighting Works) mounted to the front of each bookcase, providing 90-20 fc vertically from top to bottom.

Goldstick says the layered lighting scheme is not “an over-engineered solution [i.e., requiring myriad automated lighting controls] . . . . I’m from the KISS school of design.” The lighting in the library is manually operated, because “librarians like to control their space without a lot going on around them.” Hackley officials, however, may need to remind the librarians to exercise that control and dim the electric lights, since the space can seem overlighted on a sunny day when most of the electric lighting is on.

Also on the second floor, newly constructed wings on the sides of the library house small study areas. Here, daylight entering through generously sized windows is supplemented by fluorescent wall sconces (Visa) and pendants (Borden). Unlike the main library, automated controls were installed here; the daylight and occupancy sensors were supplied by Sensor Switch.

Classrooms were also added to Goodhue Hall. Each has two rows of indirect/direct linear fluorescent pendant fixtures (Finelite) with multi-level switching controlled by the teachers. Occupancy sensors were also used.

Goodhue Hall reopened in September 2010—restored in some ways, but enhanced in many others.

Photos: Robert Mintzes

November 2011

bottom shadow