Feature, Outdoor, Residential

Art Deco icon illuminates the New York skyline

The dramatic lighting scheme for the Art Deco Walker Tower accentuates the brick façade and its metal pilasters and panels.

The Walker Tower, close to Ground Zero in New York and damaged during the 9/11 attacks in 2001, has had a makeover. The Art Deco façade and spires have now been illuminated with Erco projectors, with lighting designer Kugler Ning ensuring there is no spill light to detract from the view of the skyline.

The dramatic lighting scheme accentuates the brick façade and its metal pilasters and panels. The skyscraper dates back to 1929 and was designed by the architect Ralph Thomas Walker. The Art Deco architecture ranks alongside the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building, which were built at the same time. Following 9/11, the Walker Tower was converted from a commercial property into one of the city’s most luxurious apartment buildings by the New York architect Cetra Ruddy.

The façade is illuminated with more than 100 Erco projectors – 7 W Grasshoppers with a narrow spot distribution of a 6° beam angle. Kugler Ning chose the outdoor luminaires, using beams of light that pointed upwards over several storeys, in order that the building’s proportions appear more sculptural, emphasise the soaring lines of the façade, and accentuate the structure of the built details in a play of light and shadow with grazing light.

This precision lighting approach guarantees outstanding glare control and avoids the penetration of spill light through windows or onto balconies. Residents and visitors alike can therefore enjoy the view of the skyline and the sky at night without glare. The Grasshopper’s housing, based on geometrical shapes, blends in discreetly with the façade. While the luminaires are mounted in high, hard-to-reach places, the LED technology should ensure that they are virtually maintenance-free.

The Walker Tower features a four-spired crown, which was completely replaced during the refurbishment. The current design was based on the original drawings by Ralph Thomas Walker, at which the colours of the metal surfaces were particularly important. The entrance area of the Walker Tower is ornamented with reliefs in bronze and nickel silver and the architect wanted to repeat these two colours at the top of the building.

Here, Kugler Ning chose the ERCO Lightscan projector, which delivers a powerful luminous flux that allows even the uppermost part of the skyscraper to be visible. For each spire, one lighting system with just 20 W output and a 7° narrow spot distribution has been fastened to the corner of the building and the inner side of the crown.


Project profile

Walker Tower, New York

Architect: Cetra Ruddy

Lighting design: Kugler Ning

Products: Erco – Grasshopper, Lightscan               

Photography: Edgar Zippel