Boston Public Library, Boston, MA
Rambusch was honored to be chosen to restore or replicate nearly 100 historic fixtures that form part of the wonderful experience of visiting this 1895 McKim Meade & White building. After a thorough condition survey, all fixtures were cleaned, refurbished, refinished and protectively coated.
One of the jewels of Boston’s collection of historic buildings, the Boston Public Library has been a repeat client of the Rambusch Company. In the 1950s, the library commissioned the company to design and build lighting fixtures for its public spaces. Most recently, the firm carried out the directives of the library’s lighting designer, including exacting upgrades and new specifications for quartz-halogen and metal halide light sources placed within restored historic luminaires. Unwanted glare and projected shadows were significantly reduced with deep optical baffles and custom backspill shields to reduce distracting brightness upon wall surfaces above the sconces.
Rambusch also created replicas of damaged torchères, originally designed in 1895 by building architect Charles Follen McKim. Distinctive for their turtle shell bases, the originals unfortunately had been lost. The challenge was to research and choose the correct chelonian species to model. This kind of replication to such a demanding degree of historical accuracy was also demonstrated in the recreation of a foliated, decorative fixture canopy. An historic photograph provided base documentation to generate a hand-drawn image, which served as the premise for a new and pristine three-dimensional casting pattern. A mold was produced from this pattern, and a bronze was subsequently cast using the Lost Wax Method.
The result was an exact copy of the foliated canopy depicted in the old images. In the Lost Wax Method employed here, the original object is first encased in liquid neoprene to create a negative mold. Hot wax is poured into this. When cooled, the wax form is encased in a plaster-sand mixture. After the plaster hardens, the assemblage is heated to melt the wax inside, draining away to leave a positive cavity. The empty plaster form is inverted, and molten bronze is poured into the vent. When cooled, the plaster is broken away, revealing an exact bronze replica of the original.