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Posted on: August 29, 2016 

2016 AL Design Awards: Daryl Roth Theatre

Commendable Achievement • Exterior Lighting

By 2016 AL Design Awards: Daryl Roth Theatre Façade

The Daryl Roth Theatre is located across from Union Square Park in New York City. Housed in the former Union Square Savings Bank, originally designed by architect Henry Bacon in 1907, the building, which has landmark status from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), had never been illuminated.


David Sundberg/Esto

Initially, the client, Daryl Roth Productions, contacted Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design (CBBLD) to explore how they might illuminate the classical-style architectural details of the façade, but an early mock-up revealed that it would not achieve the desired effect. The client then decided to illuminate the entire exterior.

David Sundberg/Esto

CBBLD began by making a historical survey of the ways in which building façades have traditionally been illuminated. With this information, they embarked on a trio of detailed studies. They also had to create the base documentation. The firm’s research into the building had unearthed only one drawing of the structure. Using that, plus photos and site measurements, CBBLD constructed the CAD documentation needed for renderings, light modeling, and client and LPC presentations.

Dimmable LED linear wall grazers mounted to the theater’s cornice proved to be the solution. This approach put the light where the designers wanted it, achieving enough contrast across the façade while highlighting the architectural details. It also provided minimal light at the sidewalk without any spill light to the surrounding buildings or park. The problem, though, was there were no market-available fixtures that could do the job. So CBBLD worked with a manufacturing partner to develop the custom fixture, optics, and rigging system.

David Sundberg/Esto

The wallwasher features two separately adjustable, 2.625"-wide linear fixtures, paired and mounted together. A 34-degree beam illuminates the upper portion of the façade and a tight 9-degree beam illuminates the lower portion of the façade. With uplights on the cornice to light the balustrade and concealed uplights on the window sills to highlight the metal work and lintels, the building welcomes theatergoers and serves as an illuminated reference point for the neighborhood. 

David Sundberg/Esto

Project: Daryl Roth Theatre Façade, New York • Client: Daryl Roth Productions, New York • Lighting Designer: Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design, New York • Team Members: Francesca Bettridge, Michael Hennes, Jeff Hoenig • Architect: Rosen Johnson Architects (consultant for Landmarks Preservation Commission approval process) • Photographer: David Sundberg/Esto • Project Size: 17,482 square feet (building façade) • Project and Lighting Costs: Withheld • Watts per Square Foot: 0.2 • Code Compliance: Meets building façade requirements for ASHRAE 90.1-2007 • Manufacturer: Acolyte

Jury Comments
Have a lot of respect for the complexity of the design challenge. • Uniform. • Bold move to bracket the fixture.

David Sundberg/EstoElizabeth Donoff is the Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Lighting.