The Cathedral upgraded its 1939 Rambusch lighting system to increase light levels, meet federal mandates, reduce utility costs and eliminate maintenance in the high dome above the sanctuary.
Old Rambusch lighting systems are wonderful opportunities for upgrade to LED technology because they yield great benefits for relatively low cost. Rambusch first designed and installed St. Patrick Cathedral’s system in 1939, but by 2015 its useful life was at an end.. The old system had become a maintenance headache and its performance had decreased due to dirt and other ravages of time. The old theatrical system hidden in the cornices had not performed for years.
The Cathedral Committee and TV Ministry wanted to increase light levels for the congregation, reduce energy costs, and meet federal mandates by eliminating specialty lamps they could no longer purchase., and the Committe’s particular interest was to completely renovate the equipment in the high dome above the sanctuary. The challenge was that this location would make maintenance difficult.
To meet these challenges, Rambusch created small, high-power LED sanctuary accents to replace the old bulky theatrical spots. Additionally, Rambusch designed highly efficient thermal inserts to LED-retrofit its 1950s Annulite housings that had lined the side aisles. As much as possible in these areas, the new flashed glass bowls were able to recreate the feel of soft, incandescent light for the congregation.
Throughout the space, old housings once using 500W now consume 150W. Former 250W fixtures now draw only 40W. System lifespans have increased from 2000 hours to a projected 40,000 hours, significantly reducing scaffolding and maintenance budgets.
And perhaps most tangible to congregation, committee and visitor alike is that a careful orchestration of lighting retrofit and new fixture design recaptured a decade’s-lost presence and significantly revitalized St. Patrick’s sanctuary and nave.