Built in the early 1920s as The Bank of Italy headquarters, the 12-story, Neoclassical tower at the corner of 7th and Olive Streets in downtown Los Angeles had long been neglected—until just a few years ago when hospitality firm Sydell Group and designer Jacques Garcia began its transformation into the luxe NoMad Los Angeles.
The first NoMad—built in 2012—makes its home in New York. While it was important for NoMad Los Angeles to take a few aesthetic cues from the original, it was equally imperative that the building’s historical features be preserved and showcased.
“A big part of creating that experience involves lighting,” explains Sean O’Connor, principal at Sean O’Connor Lighting, lighting design firm for the NoMad Los Angeles. “There are expectations in terms of melding with 1920s architecture and in terms of modern-day lighting demands. Lighting needs to be seamlessly integrated, so the hotel is well-illuminated and feels comfortable but doesn’t shout ‘lighting design!’ ”
In large-volume spaces, such as the two-story restaurant (the former bank lobby), O’Connor’s team crafted a layered effect to seamlessly, elegantly transition from daytime to nighttime while creating special lighting moments.
Incorporating sconces, table and floor lamps, lighting in display shelves, and sensitively located accent lighting keeps the eye low while creating contrast and beauty. “You sense the light around you instead of where it comes from,” says Michael Lombardi, senior associate at Sean O’Connor Lighting.
The lighting design team used Lutron’s Quantum system to help the hotel create unique lighting scenes integrated with time-clock functions. Localized controls and an iPad provide quick, temporary fine-tuning based on what’s happening in the space—with the ability to easily revert to preset scenes.
In guestrooms, the lighting design honors New York’s approach, which involves incandescent lamps and simple wall-box switches and rotary-style dimmers. “We were going for the same feel: a warm, home-away-from-home experience,” O’Connor says. “But we couldn’t achieve it in the same way because of California’s energy requirements.” The building needed to follow the state’s stringent Title 24.
To create these similar lighting experiences while maintaining compliance, “we incorporated current warm dimming LED technology into guestrooms to ensure warm color temperatures,” Lombardi says. “That makes it feel special and inviting. People walk in and feel at home.”
O’Connor’s firm used Lutron’s myRoom system, which integrates light, temperature, and shade control. Events such as guest arrival, guest departure, turndown, and door opening/closing are assigned automatic preset lighting scenes that provide different experiences.
From the award-winning hotel’s meeting rooms, lobby areas, and guestrooms to its restaurants, bars, and coffee shop, lighting connects all the unique spaces with a design that mixes historical and modern while utilizing a system that offers lighting control and a consistent user interface.
“Working with Lutron let us partner with just one vendor, which isn’t common in the hotel world,” O’Connor says. “It’s nice to have a seamless experience as we put the project together, as well as for long-term maintenance for the hotel.”