In Salt Lake City, Utah, the debut of the 2,500-seat, $119 million George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater was highly anticipated—bringing to the downtown’s cultural core a much-needed new venue large enough to accommodate even the most ambitious Broadway productions. The building’s aesthetic is equally impressive. Its exterior has a strong architectural form, with a glass facade that allows light to flow easily both in and out. In fact, the lobby is meant to glow from within. Therefore, finishes are light, with reflection and sparkle wherever possible.
However, as one steps into the auditorium, “day” becomes “night.” The ceiling is like a black night sky, with strands of lights suspended to suggest stars and planets. In contrast, around the perimeter, tiers of seating rise up, like the strata of the actual mountains that provide the city’s backdrop. Those tiers are outlined in iLight Plexineon, which articulates the simple curved forms, catching light around the room.
With expertise in illuminating performing arts venues, the firm Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design worked on the interior in partnership with Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. The two firms having collaborated on such projects for decades.
When it came to following the varying curves of the balconies, Francesca Bettridge, CBBLD Principal-in-Charge, knew she needed a unique product they could detail into a curving architectural niche. Plexineon, with its ability to bend, rose to the task, creating a soft line that accentuates the architecture. CBBLD chose Plexineon 1X White 2800 for its warmth, to pair with other warm colors in the room.
“The reason the Plexineon works so well is that it’s a continuous line,” Bettridge says. “We couldn’t have followed the curves with fixtures that are just linear. Also, you don’t see the diodes, which is good—we didn’t want more sparkle. It’s a very even light.”
The Plexineon fixtures are controlled by DMX dimming and are often kept low during performances. “They provide a whisper of light for way finding,” Bettridge says. “We did do a mock up because we wanted to make sure it would dim well – all of the controls are located outside the house.”
Bettridge and her team also employed iLight Plexineon along a hallway that connects the lobby to a pedestrian walkway. Lines of recessed Plexineon White 3500 illuminate the inside walls of skylights that span the entire concourse—enabling them to glow at night. Plexineon is also recessed along the edges of a dropped ceiling, contributing to the sense that it is floating away from the walls.
Bettridge says Plexineon helps create an enriching experience at the theater.
“I was very impressed at the final focusing,” she says. “It exceeded my expectations—it’s a nice clean light, and it does exactly what we wanted it to do. The architects are pleased. We’re very happy with it.”
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