Mar 19, 2020

A resort on the shores of Lake Tahoe makes an after-dark statement without relying on exterior lighting

By Katie Nale

Even today, the almost mythical setting of the great American West can still conjure up images of restless cowboys, extraordinary sunsets and unique wildlife. In contrast to the natural and sometimes rugged stereotypes of the region, Lake Tahoe—situated between California and Nevada—may be better known for the luxurious residences and resorts surrounding the lake’s sparkling blue water. In Stateline, NV, The Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe sports an interior that celebrates the luxury of a location on the lake, as well as the natural setting and adventurous history of the West. “It had to be high-end, sophisticated and nature-driven, but at the same time, very warm. We wanted to achieve some drama—something exciting,” recalls lead lighting designer Salwa Osman of StudioK1 (Los Angeles). Using discreet lighting to illuminate the warm earthy tones of the 170,000-sq ft resort, Osman generated a sense of excitement by contrasting the warm tones inside the lodge with the stark alpine exterior easily visible through the Great Room’s expansive glass windows.

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“We really relied on the lighting of the Great Room to create this lantern effect and be the façade lighting for the whole building,” recalls Osman. Residing directly on the lake’s shore, the lodge falls within the jurisdiction of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), which aims to limit the impacts of tourism, logging and overgrowth on the lake’s delicate environment. The agency’s environmental conservancy ordinances include strict dark-sky policies, which allowed for very little in the way of exterior lighting. “It was very difficult to justify façade lighting. We used one element of façade uplighting and we had to prove that it was all happening under a covered canopy or an extension of that. Drawings and diagrams had to show that we weren’t uplighting any part of the night sky,” says Osman.

By exploiting the Great Room’s expansive windows and uplighting its wooden cathedral-like ceilings, the building manages to glow in the dark without using exterior lights that could interfere with surrounding wildlife. The lighting throughout the lodge is predominantly set to 2700K, emphasizing the warmth of the natural wooden surfaces. This is particularly important in the Great Room, as layered lighting in the form of accent fixtures, recessed downlights and uplighting of the wooden ceiling, create a luxurious feeling of space, while also complementing the “earthy” finishes. The room’s decorative luminaires use 2200K LED lamps, adding to the sentiment of layered warmth.

The rustic design in the Great Room continues throughout the lodge, emphasized by concealed, indirect and miniature architectural luminaires. These fixtures enable the more decorative luminaires to add “sparkle” to the ambiance. “We had to rely on integrating the lighting using small aperture lights in the ceiling, and a lot of coves—we did a lot of grazing of architectural elements. We wanted visible lighting to be minimal rather than decorative,” says Osman.

In the living room, wall-grazing above a carved stone stairwell and asymmetric uplighting of the ceiling provide another space with layered warmth, while the reception and lobby area use concealed wall-grazing and cove lighting to accentuate textured wooden finishes.

One point of divergence from Osman’s tendency toward discreet lighting is the corridor illumination, which ultimately changed as the tight budget proved to be one of the project’s main challenges. The original concept comprised of precise, forest-inspired light-and-shadow patterns projected on the corridor walls evolved into a more minimal design with accent lights tucked within ceiling recesses behind ornamental ironwork to create subtler shadow patterns on the corridor walls.

Budget was not the only hiccup as the region experienced its second wettest season in 122 years, causing the construction schedule to be severely impacted by flooding and snow. Opening day, however, could not be pushed back due to a highly publicized celebrity golf championship tournament slated to take place at the resort. “With trades overlapping, daily RFIs and alternate product sourcing due to lead-time issues, construction administration was a collaboration feat,” recalls Osman.

In addition to hitting deadline, the project also sought to check off its environmental requirements. In keeping with the strict ordinances of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the lack of exterior lighting helped keep lighting power density low. “The Lodge, and Lake Tahoe in general, revolve around human experiences; whether it is the picturesque serenity of the lake against the snowcapped Sierra peaks or the Jeffrey Pine backdrops,” says Osman. “The design, in both lighting and architecture, is aimed at immersing guests into those experiences by bringing this outdoor serenity indoors, and overlaying it with warmth and comfort.”


Katie Nale

Katie Nale