lighting and electrical

Recasting the Past

Lighting from New York’s Grand Central Terminal was the inspiration for 128 fixtures in a new 775-room hotel in Salt Lake City.

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Using historical fixtures from New York City’s Grand Central Terminal as inspiration, West Jordan, UT-based Historical Arts & Casting, Inc., designed, manufactured and installed the exterior light fixtures for Salt Lake City’s Grand America Hotel, including this 7-ft.-tall lamppost in the courtyard. All of the fixtures were cast in solid bronze and hand finished with natural patinas. All photos courtesy of Historical Arts & Casting, Inc.

By Will Holloway

In early 2001, West Jordan, UT-based Historical Arts & Casting, Inc., was approached by a local real estate developer to design, manufacture and install the exterior light fixtures for a new luxury hotel being built in downtown Salt Lake City, UT.

The Grand America Hotel was developed by Earl Holding, owner of the Sinclair Oil Corp., the Little America Hotel chain, Sun Valley and Snowbasin ski resorts and one of the nation’s biggest landowners. Because the Grand America was conceived to accommodate the swarms of spectators and press who would be descending upon Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Olympics, the biggest challenge for Historical Arts & Casting was to complete the job within what company Vice President Robert Baird describes as “an almost impossible fast-track schedule.”

The 24-story, 775-room, 1.2 million-sq.-ft. Beaux Arts structure, clad in white Bethel granite, was designed by Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates, of Atlanta, GA. In creating light fixtures appropriate for the hotel, Historical Arts & Casting invoked another “Grand” building, New York City’s Grand Central Terminal (1913). “We’ve done a lot of survey work and historical research of lighting,” says Baird. “In the early 1990s, we surveyed all of the bronze light fixtures that had been around Grand Central. These lights had been taken down – with the plan of putting them back up sometime – when work was being done around the terminal. But they were never reinstalled. A lot of them still sit in storage.”

Left: The model #LF130 three-headed lamppost, of which four were created for the Grand America, measures 3 ft., 8½ ins. in dia. Its floral support arms hold 21/3-ft.-tall lantern heads. All drawings courtesy of Historical Arts & Casting, Inc.
Right: All told, more than 40 wall bracket lanterns were fabricated in two sizes: 3½ ft. and 5 ft. tall; the backplates were secured to the masonry walls with ¾-in. anchor bolts.

Family of Fixtures
Using the Grand Central fixtures as inspiration, Historical Arts & Casting set out to design a family of fixtures for the Grand America – from wall bracket lanterns and sconces to lampposts, pedestal lanterns and chandeliers. With the Olympics to begin in February of 2002, all of the design work, tooling, casting, finishing and installation of 128 fixtures, in 12 varieties, had to be completed over the course of a year. Company President Richard Baird headed the design process. “We used photographs of the Grand Central fixtures to create the new fixtures,” he says, “but we also created adaptations for the wall-mounted lights and surface-mounted dome lights. For the big chandeliers – where we didn’t have a Grand Central model – we looked at some other historical models and followed the same design concept as the other fixtures.

“The thing that was interesting about this project was that by using technology that we have developed, we were able to scan existing patterns for the first fixture that we modeled and then manipulate that on the computer to create the different sizes and scales that were needed. We’re talking about a job that typically would have taken two years to complete – but because of the way that we’re set up, we were able to isolate the critical path and do the design and then put it through our pattern shop and the foundry in about ten months.”

The model #LF123 wall-bracket pendent lantern, featuring a floral scroll bracket, hangs down 3 ft., 7½ ins. and extends 2 ft., 5½ ins. from the wall; 12 were created for the Grand America Hotel.
Historical Arts & Casting’s model #LF126 eight-headed single-tier chandelier has a height of 83/4 ft. and a diameter of 8 ft.; the eight lantern heads are 21/3 ft. tall.

Typical of all of the fixture heads, the heads of the three types of wall-bracket lantern fixtures feature finials, floral shell cresting, scrolls and tapered mullions with intricate floral patterns – all in solid bronze. Thirty-four of the 3½-ft.-tall model, 10 of the 5-ft.-tall model and 12 of the pendent model – with an intricate floral scroll along the bracket arm – were created.

Twenty-six lampposts were created, including 13 of the 7-ft., single-headed model; nine of the 10-ft., single-headed model and four of the three-headed model. Sixteen shorter pedestal lanterns in two models – 5 ft. tall and 3½ ft. tall – were also created. Other fixtures include two four-headed, single-tier and three eight-headed, single-tier chandeliers; one 12-headed, double-tier chandelier and 24 wall sconces with fluted bands and rosettes.

All cast bronze with handmade German bent-glass lenses, the fixtures were hand finished with natural patinas and waxed. By the end of 2001, Historical Arts & Casting had installed the light fixtures at the Grand America Hotel. Eventually, they will turn green, Robert Baird says– a process that, given Utah’s relatively clean atmosphere, should take five to ten years.

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