LD+A on Exterior Facade Lighting of Detroit's Metropolitan Building

Camille Thompson
Jan 4, 2021 4:12:14 PM

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Article Highlights Lighting Designer R. White's Dream of Bringing Back a Detroit Architectural Icon

The January issue of LD+A  magazine, the official magazine for the Illuminating Engineering Society, features an article on the transformative exterior facade lighting of Detroit's Metropolitan Building. Illuminart, a division of Peter Basso Associates, Inc., provided architectural lighting design services for the project to The Roxbury Group, a Detroit-based real estate development and consulting firm. Peter Basso Associates, Inc., provided MEP engineering design services for the interior renovation.

The LD+A article briefly outlines the history of Detroit's Metropolitan Building including its 40-year decline into decay, ending with its recent restoration and resurgence as the Element Hotel, with ground floor retail and restaurant space.

Focusing on Robert White, IALD, IES, LC, principal of Illuminart and his personal connection to the Detroit architectural scene, LD+A Editor Paul Tarricone, touches on White’s long-standing interest in and compassion for the building. Beginning with his college days as an art student at College for Creative Studies in Detroit in the 1980's, White recounts how walking past eerily shuttered architectural marvels like The Metropolitan in Downtown Detroit, after all of the restaurants and nightclubs had closed, was a common scene in those days.

According to Elizabeth Knibbe, FAIA, LEED AP principal with Quinn Evans Architects who provided architectural and historical work, "the lighting designers understood the need to provide exterior lighting that substantially enhanced the historic character of the building through the use of fixtures that do not detract from the character of the building - and they did so within a tight budget." (January, 2021. 'Labor of Love.' Tarricone, P. LD+A Magazine.)

Overall, the design called for, 'lighting 13,500 sq ft on the main facade, additional lighting around the main facade corner, small coat-of-arms details around the entire parapet, and lighting at the roof terrace and the rooftop penthouse on all side.'

The exterior facade lighting has successfully re-energized not only The Metropolitan, but a part of downtown that once was silenced by Detroit's economic downturn and the loss of commerce.

With the newly restored Metropolitan and the addition of The Element hotel, visitors will no longer see broken windows and graffiti when they look up at the towering figure, but will now marvel at the incredible architectural details of one of Detroit's once forgotten but now reawakened, beautiful skyscrapers.

To read the full article in LD+A, you must be an IES member. To learn more, click here: https://www.ies.org/member-only-content/?redirect_to=%2Flda-magazine%2Fback-issues%2F

To find out more about Illuminart's architectural lighting design services, contact Robert White, IALD, IES, LC, Director of Illuminart at rwhite@illuminart.net

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