Spotlighting Wallwashers in classic design What makes design classic? Noble materials, appropriately scaled and carefully planned, attention to detail, and superb craftsmanship. Effective lighting -- a balance between the right fixture and appropriate lamps -- is essential in showcasing that classic design.
In 1957, New York City's landmark Seagram's Building's lobby and adjoining Four Seasons Restaurant became the first sites illuminated by Edison Price's linear incandescent wallwashers. The New York-based company called these custom fixtures Spredlite. They were mounted in architectural light coves, all but invisible, illuminating the sweep of travertine walls below.
Today, the site remains intact, an oasis of daring design (created by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson with lighting by Richard Kelly) that is both tranquil and dramatic.
Linear wallwashers provide uniform grazing illumination on vertical surfaces without reflecting on highly polished surfaces, such as marble or granite, while accentuating the richness of textured walls, including brick, stone, fabric or other wallcoverings.
As other high-profile tenants, owners, architects and designers became aware of the value of well-lit public spaces in buildings, more installations of the custom wallwashers in prestigious buildings soon followed the Seagram's Building. Contempo-rary architectural classics that feature these Spredlites include 919 Third Avenue in New York, and the JM Huber Headquarters Building in Metro Park, N.J.
The 919 Third Avenue building, redesigned by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, New York, features a black glass ceiling in the lobby with a highly polished surface that is punctuated by a neon chandelier. The anchor in this dramatic design is the discreet curtain of light on each vertical plane provided by Spredlite 20, an adjustable fixture whose lamps can be aimed and locked in place for precise illumination of the wall below. Fixtures may be relamped or cleaned without disturbing their adjustment.