This story was originally published in Architectural Lighting.

A nighttime view of the theater.
Jeff Goldberg/Esto A nighttime view of the theater.

This new theater takes its cues from the surrounding urban and natural landscapes of the Salt Lake City area. The glass and steel façade responds to the building’s downtown location, while the interior finishes, particularly the striated multi-colored wood walls in the 2,500-seat theater speaks to the nearby Wasatch mountain range. The lighting design by New York-based CBBLD, articulates the transition from street to lobby atrium and then into the theater by creating clearly defined illumination zones.

The theater lobby and atrium.
Jeff Goldberg/Esto The theater lobby and atrium.

The focal point of the lighting design is the “night sky” ceiling in the theater. To create this seemingly simple design was actually quite a significant technical challenge. LED strings, two layers deep, stretch across frames. In each ceiling section, the LEDs are controlled randomly by nine separate dimming zones, allowing for crossfading. Additionally, each section of the theater “sky” is carefully positioned, and angled to avoid the theatrical lighting equipment. This, along with the physical distance between the LED strands and the different sizes of the diodes, works to create a sense of depth evocative of a clear, starry night. Although inside, patrons feel as if they are in an outdoor amphitheater covered under a blanket of stars.

The theater interior looking toward the stage.
Jeff Goldberg/Esto The theater interior looking toward the stage.
A view of the theater from the stage.
Jeff Goldberg/Esto A view of the theater from the stage.

Jury Comments:
The designers have created a sense of magic in the theater. • The “starry night” ceiling is difficult to do and they’ve done it to perfection. • The space is spectacular.

Project: George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater, Salt Lake City, Utah
Client: Salt Lake County Center for the Arts
Architects: Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, New Haven, Conn., (Design Architect) / HKS Architects, Salt Lake City (Architect of Record)
Team Members: Pelli Clarke Pelli: Mitchell Hirsch;
Lighting Designer: Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design, New York
Team Members: Francesca Bettridge, Michael Hennes, Nira Wattanachote, Glenn Fujimura
Additional Consultants: General Contractor: Layton Construction; Mechanical Engineer: Buro Happold; Electrical Engineer: BNA Consulting; Theatre Consultant: Fisher Dachs Associates
Photographers: Jeff Goldberg/Esto; Jack E Madsen III Architectural Photography; Courtesy of iLight Technologies
Project Size: 185,000 square feet
Project Cost: $119 million
Lighting Costs: Not for disclosure
Watts per Square Foot: Complies with ASHRAE 90.1 (2007) Standard
Code Compliance: Project is 20% under the energy allowance required by local code (ASHRAE 90.1-2007)
Manufacturers: Bega, Erco, iLight, Moooi Lighting, RSA Lighting, Selux, Shaper Lighting, Tivoli, Tokistar, WAC Lighting

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