Apr 9, 2021

The lighting plan at a Utah resort unites the great outdoors with tranquil interiors

By Paul Tarricone

Outside, the sky is a crisp blue. Inside, warm earth tones, wood and stone dominate. Put those colors together, toss in a dose of award-winning architectural lighting and you have 80,000 sq ft of seclusion and indulgence, ensconced in 4,500 acres in Wanship, UT. “The structure glows with warmth in the saddle of the austere hillsides where it resides,” says firm principal Mansour Aghdasi of Electrical Engineering & Lighting Design (EELD), West Salt Lake City.

Nestled high in the Wasatch Mountain Range, the Blue Sky Resort is comprised of multiple structures, housing a lodge, suites and spa, where a whiskey, salt and sage massage awaits. EELD developed both the exterior and interior lighting concepts for the five-star resort, in collaboration with ajc architects and interior designer D360. EELD’s comprehensive project scope included everything from guest rooms, dining areas, meeting space, reception, fitness rooms, retail and lobby space, to the outdoor pool and pathways connecting all buildings.

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For the exterior, the resort owner took the “Blue Sky” name to heart. “ ‘Blue Sky’ was coined to describe city-mandated full-cutoff requirements for the property,” says Aghdasi. “Luminaires were chosen for the ability to provide zero lumens above 90 deg.”

Eliminating light trespass was especially challenging on the pool deck. “We wanted the pool environment to have a darker and high-end feel while still meeting the code requirement dictated by the city. Because of the nature of the facility and being in a darker environment, the code official allowed us to reduce light level requirements in the pool deck to 1 footcandle minimum. Multiple lighting calculations and adjustments helped to achieve this,” says Aghdasi. “The solution we came up with was to install multiple aimable 4-in. diameter narrow distribution spotlights high up on the building and aim them toward certain areas of the pool deck to get the required 1 fc. Since the fixtures were higher up and aimed down, glare was a concern, so we specified a fixture with a large 6-in. snoot.”

A defining characteristic on the exterior are the distinctive wooden slat screens across the façades of the buildings. However, the screens presented a design quandary. “We wanted to highlight these screens, as they are an interesting architectural element visible from outside. There was limited space for a fixture to be installed in the screen, so we had to find a very low-profile linear fixture that had enough lumen output to wash the screen elements. We used a tight distribution so the light would uniformly highlight the wood. A few mockups were done to ensure the fixture would fit properly and would light each screen uniformly.”

Across the grounds of the resort, contemporary bollards illuminate pathways. The use of raw materials in the bollards allowed them to complement the structural façades while blending into the surrounding nature.

Color temperature is also critical on this project. “We wanted to keep the interior and exterior a warm residential-like environment with a seamless transition when walking from inside to outside and vice versa, so we used 2700K fixtures throughout the entire project,” says Aghdasi.

Inside, a variety of techniques were used to produce the warmth, as the light brings forth the wood and stone. The lobby’s grand fireplace is uniformly illuminated with adjustable narrow-beam downlights. Luminaires were carefully selected to ensure light traveled all the way to the base. In the dining area, simple luxury emerges with a warm subtle graze across the stone backdrop. An LED linear luminaire was tucked into a cove to achieve this effect. A second dining area includes a unique sculptural pendant suspended over the dining table. “It makes a statement, while still blending in with the natural finishes surrounding the space,” says Aghdasi.

The emphasis on warmth continues in the retail shop, where western-style accessories are illuminated by miniature 1-in.-wide linear luminaires. LED lines of light were recessed into shelving to create a high-end shopping experience. In the spa, meanwhile, indirect light from the borders brings an enhanced feeling of relaxation. The stone wall is warmed by LED luminaires mounted on the perimeter.

There is just one place left to visit in the five-star resort. In the corridors leading to the rooms, high-end finishes are enhanced by adjustable square downlights intended to blend into the corridor and minimize protrusions into the space. Inside the room, the writing desk niche in the stone wall is accentuated by 2-in. mini downlights resulting in a truly creative workspace. Underbed illumination creates a floating appearance.

A fine way to drift off after a day at Blue Sky.


Paul Tarricone

Paul Tarricone

Paul Tarricone has more 25 years of experience in association and business-to-business publishing, specializing in the engineering, design, construction and facilities management markets. Mr. Tarricone currently serves as Editor and Publisher of Lighting Design + Application,... More info »