Gabellini Sheppard Associates Reveals Revamp of Rockefeller Center’s Outdoor Lighting Scheme

Aerial rendering of proposed updates for Rockefeller Plaza - Tishman Speyer; Gabellini Sheppard AssociatesAerial rendering of proposed updates for Rockefeller Plaza - Tishman Speyer; Gabellini Sheppard Associates

Gabellini Sheppard Associates has proposed an extensive redesign of existing lighting fixtures in an effort to improve the illumination of distinguished artworks throughout Rockefeller Center. The scope of work covers nearly every building and their respective façades between West 48th Street and West 51st Street, spanning Sixth Avenue, Rockefeller Plaza, and Fifth Avenue.

Proposals for the project fill nearly 100 pages, which were made public before review by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The public hearing for this phase of a larger beatification project took place on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

Beginning with Rockefeller Center’s eastern boundary, affected buildings include 45 Rockefeller Plaza, 620 Fifth Avenue, 610 Fifth Avenue, and 600 Fifth Avenue. Buildings at the western boundary include 1270 Sixth Avenue, 1250 Sixth Avenue, and 1230 Sixth Avenue. Within the busy pedestrian plaza, impacted areas include the seasonal ice rink and retail center also known as the “Sunken Plaza,” 1 Rockefeller Plaza, 10 Rockefeller Plaza, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, and 50 Rockefeller Plaza.

Map of Rockefeller Center indicates existing artworks (red) and building entries (yellow) to be affected by this phase of proposals - Gabellini Sheppard Associates

Map of Rockefeller Center indicates existing artworks (red) and building entries (yellow) to be affected by this phase of proposals – Gabellini Sheppard Associates

In short, new lighting fixtures that could be installed into existing limestone façades include cornice up-lights, combination of retrofit and replaced sconces, accent lighting beneath existing flagpoles, adjustable floodlights, and improved overhead lighting in most of the existing building entryways.

"Atlas" at 630 Fifth Avenue in its existing presentation (left) and proposed illumination (right) - Gabellini Sheppard Associates

“Atlas” at 630 Fifth Avenue in its existing presentation (left) and proposed illumination (right) – Gabellini Sheppard Associates

East Façade of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in its existing presentation (left) and proposed illumination (right) – Gabellini Sheppard Associates

50 Rockefeller Plaza existing (left) and proposed alterations (right) at East Facade - Gabellini Sheppard Associates

50 Rockefeller Plaza existing (left) and proposed alterations (right) at East Façade – Gabellini Sheppard Associates

Other locations could also support light projectors mounted on setback terraces and roof levels to illuminate prominent features below, including the John D. Rockefeller Credo, the surrounding Channel Gardens, and busy pedestrian spaces along Rockefeller Plaza. Current roof-level lighting can be quite harsh in the evening hours and the architects aim to soften that effect with more fitting light projectors.

The gilded Prometheus fountain sculpture in the Sunken Plaza could receive a host of upgrades including the replacement of existing lighting fixtures with color-changing LEDs both submerged below the waterline and surrounding the fountain.

Arguably, the most interesting upgrades could take shape above the iconic Radio City Music Hall Marquee. At this location, the architects have proposed the installation of surface-mounted LED lights and a discreet metal mesh to increase reflectivity. These additions would be installed behind the façade’s existing metal grilles.

The observation deck marquee at 49 West 49th Street will also be retrofit with new adjustable accent lights to illuminate the ornate stone relief above.

Metal grille facade at Radio City Music Hall - Existing (left) and proposed (right) -Gabellini Sheppard Associates

Metal grille façade at Radio City Music Hall – Existing (left) and proposed (right) -Gabellini Sheppard Associates

50 West 50th Street Observation Deck Marquee - Existing conditions (left) proposed conditions (right) - Gabellini Sheppard Associates

50 West 50th Street Observation Deck Marquee – Existing conditions (left) proposed conditions (right) – Gabellini Sheppard Associates

Tishman Speyer, current owner of the Rockefeller Center, has not revealed a timeline for any of the three announced phases of renovation at Rockefeller Center, which will undoubtedly take close to a decade to fully realize. Thus far, the LPC has mostly supported each phase of the proposals with minimal requests for redesigns or modifications.

Collage of all existing artworks within Rockefeller Plaza to be affected by the proposed alterations - Gabellini Sheppard Associates

Collage of all existing artworks within Rockefeller Plaza to be affected by the proposed alterations – Gabellini Sheppard Associates

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6 Comments on "Gabellini Sheppard Associates Reveals Revamp of Rockefeller Center’s Outdoor Lighting Scheme"

  1. David : Sent From Heaven. | June 24, 2020 at 7:44 am | Reply

    I’m not allergic to any developments, put my hand up for its beauty: Thank you.

  2. A double win for everyone!
    Energy efficient LED lighting and better visibility of the historic structures.

    • So a homeowner spending money for 30 yrs of better lighting. As those buildings like the home r existing costs.

  3. Bravo!

    I look forward to “seeing” these architectural details lit up, on my next visit, whenever it is safe to travel without a
    ‘carry-on full of masks’! ?

  4. Lovely will check out

  5. Really like this . A good change

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