Client: Louis Vuitton
Architect: Booth Hansen
Lighting Design: Schuler Shook
Architectural firm Booth Hansen recently completed the design of a two-storey storefront for Louis Vuitton, set at the base of the historic Palmolive Building – one of the great Art Deco masterpieces of downtown Chicago, The project was part renovation and part preservation, involving the painstaking restoration of beautiful original elements and the integration of new modern glass window bays that maximise retail presence for the client.
Having previously completed the exterior lighting for upper floors of building, lighting designers Schuler Shook were engaged to work with Booth Hansen on the storefront lighting design. They opted for a primarily linear uplight scheme to reveal the beauty and rhythm in the architecture at street level, in a manner cohesive with the lighting design for the building facade as a whole.
When the project commenced, the only remaining original parts of the lower storeys were sections of cast iron columns and lanterns. These were restored to meet historic preservation requirements, using details from existing drawings and clues from the building to fill the missing parts. The lanterns were updated with LED panels replacing original light sources, and the connecting fluted header panels and decorative top pieces were re-created to compete the ‘historic frame’. Set within this, the modern storefront bays are a pared back interpretation of the original design, their simplicity allowing the historic architecture due presence, while also offering the larger spans of glass suited to modern merchandising.
For lighting designer Schuler Shook it was important that the lighting was viewed as part of the wider composition of the full building, balanced against the need to draw attention to the shop front.
Robert Shook, Director, Schuler Shook explains:
“ We wanted the lighting for the base of the building to marry well with the previous work we did on the building. As this consisted largely of highlighting the architectural form by sharply grazing light in warm white (3000K) up the vertical surfaces adjacent to the set backs, it made sense to use grazing uplight, and warm white light at the base as well. We also wanted to make sure that the new lighting at the base was noticeable in the context of the relatively bright ambient light on the street.”
Various schemes were trialled, and the final approach was a linear up-light scheme that integrated well into the existing conditions. Light is set into raised curb bases and skims up the light coloured cast iron panels at the base of the historic columns, revealing the decorative relief. The contrast of the lit panels against the black cast iron behind helps to reinforce the architectural rhythm at a human scale, while the vertical emphasis plays an important role in tying the overall building composition together.
Schuler Shook investigated a number of products fulfil their design requirements. Their choice was the acdc IGLu – a recessed linear wallwash luminaire featuring a micro louvre system designed to minimise glare and shield the LED light source from view. With the fittings integrated at street level, shielding was a critical element on this project to avoid dazzling passers by and preventing them from clearly seeing into the shop windows. IGLu measures just 65mm wide and is available with four beam angles and three tilt options for fine tuning of the lit effect.
“We selected the acdc IGLu because of its IP67 rating, super compact size and superior glare shielding. The fixture was also available in a black finish and with a remote driver, both of which helped to integrate neatly into the architectural design.”