We were originally brought on to the Grace Church project in Brooklyn Heights to update and refine the lighting inside in the interior and the exterior of the church. Design goals included an increase in usable light levels for the aging population, reduction in energy usage, and a maintenance-friendly system. However when the project started, excavation of the existing brown paint layer present on all the church wall and ceiling surfaces revealed exquisite patterns of decorative paint on the walls and a painted ceiling full of stars on a blue night sky. This required a new, more layered lighting approach which combined aesthetic, and functional goals.
The new lighting system’s approach integrates multi-circuit track above beams along the Nave. LED track heads in varying beam spreads suit different functions; amplifying the dazzling painted ceiling, focusing on pews below, and highlighting distinctive architectural features and paint patterns. A secondary layer of light was added using new pendant luminaires, designed by the Tillett studio in the style of the elegant original historic church chandeliers, but using contemporary technology. Flexible controls were added to allow for scene shifts for multiple services and events throughout the year. What had started as a functional/programmatic driven project turned into a celebration of the vivid, joyous space that was uncovered.