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Street Lighting Old State Capitol, KY

Prismatic glass luminaires boost
safety at historic old state capitol

The Old State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky reflects many architectural elements of the early south with its Greek Revival architecture and sweeping colonnade. Serving as the capital of the Commonwealth of Kentucky from 1830 until 1910, the building is recognized as a masterpiece of nineteenth-century American architecture.

After the structure underwent an extensive restoration to return it to its original splendor, state officials turned their attention to improving the exterior illumination of this national historic landmark. The Old State Capitol and Annex were previously illuminated by colonial-style luminaires with 5-foot heads mounted on 8-foot poles. The aging oversize heads tended to let the elements in, which caused lamps and ballasts to fail prematurely.

“Lighting from the fixtures was inadequate,” said David Franke, assistant director for the Division of Mechanical Maintenance and Operations in the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet. “This created a real problem because of the volume of traffic on the square at night—especially during the summer months when people were coming onto the grounds for concerts and other events. We received many complaints about safety and security.”

Since the Old State Capitol is a national historic landmark, the lighting system chosen for the retrofit had to be historically accurate. The Kentucky Division of Historic Properties possessed a photograph of the downtown area during the 1850s that showed a lantern-style luminaire and pole that was used at that time. The goal was to find a luminaire and pole that would match the earlier units as closely as possible.

According to Franke, the lighting system also had to have a low uniformity ratio while providing sufficient illumination levels.

“We did not want a forest of poles or pools of light throughout the grounds,” said Franke. “Since the area includes a number of 50- to 60-foot Pin Oaks, we wanted luminaires that would provide an element of uplight to illuminate the tree canopy as well as the building and the general site.”

Maintenance was another consideration. Officials wanted a lighting fixture with a glass reflector that would not become discolored over time and would retain its efficiency. They also wanted to achieve sufficient illumination with minimal energy usage.

Claremont® II luminaires from Holophane met the above criteria. The luminaires, which use a 150-watt clear high-pressure sodium lamp, incorporate a subtle uplight component to softly accentuate the building façade and the tree canopy.

A total of 27 lighting assemblies were installed along the brick walkways and throughout the 360’ x 360’ grounds area. Luminaires were mounted on 12-foot Princeton poles installed about three feet from the walkways. The fixtures are spaced approximately 40 feet apart. Four additional luminaires were mounted on 14-foot poles at the edge of the parking lot.

Franke used a template of the Old State Capitol and Annex, the walkways and grounds to develop the lighting system criteria. Grant Wilson, president, E-Tech Consultants, PLLC, Lexington, Kentucky then designed the lighting system layout to meet those criteria. Although the system was designed for one footcandle, the measured level is 1.2 footcandles maintained. The Claremont II luminaires have a ballast factor of one, which allows the lamp to perform at its published rated lumen output.

“State officials have been very pleased with the quality of the illumination,” said Wilson. “The light is soft but ample without generating a stadium-type feel.”

The lamps in the Claremont II fixtures are replaced as needed. The fixtures are controlled by a time clock.

“The lighting creates a comfortable ambience that helps make people feel at ease anytime they venture onto the grounds after dark,” said Franke. “The Claremont II luminiares are as aesthetically pleasing during the day as they are at night.”


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