An Iconic Aspen Hotel's Facade Lighting Updates

Hotel Jerome West Before Hotel Jerome West After

Chic accommodations, rustic accents, historic architectural details, and luxurious mountain views compose this iconic three-story hotel centrally located on Main Street in downtown Aspen.

Built in 1889 during the town’s rich mining days, this hotel is hailed as Aspen’s original luxury hotel and one of the first electrically lit buildings west of the Mississippi. Business thrived during those early years, but as the silver mining boom crashed so did the hotel’s original livelihood. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, the sleepy town of Aspen grew into popularity as a ski destination which attracted a diverse group of ski bums, creatives, and celebrities to the hotel. In the 1960’s the hotel desperately needed repairs to keep up with the success of the town. However, limited remodeling and repairs actually took place until the 1980’s when new ownership completed a full renovation and restoration of the hotel.

The hotel was revived again in 2012 with new finishes and updated creature comforts. Finally, during the most recent reimagination, the exterior courtyard was to be refreshed. It was at this time that the owners expressed a desire to upgrade the façade… enter LS Group.

Hotel Jerome East Before Hotel Jerome East After

The façade lighting had last been updated in 1985 and the owners were interested in an upgraded energy efficient and additionally aesthetically pleasing version of the historic application. The City of Aspen has adapted an especially stringent dark sky compliance mission, which made the façade upgrade a bit of a challenge as uplighting is typically not allowed; however, due to the historic nature of the building and it’s presence at the heart of Main Street, the City allowed a one for one replacement of existing power locations. Up to this challenge, our team sought out to find the perfect solution to both embrace and enhance this historic storefront. The primary considerations for the perfect luminaire:

  1. Compatibility with existing power and power locations
    • The existing power coming into the building was line voltage, as such all new lighting fixtures would need to be line voltage; no remote low voltage power supplies could be accommodated.
  2. Power feeds for the existing surface mount fixtures could not be moved from original locations.
  3. Power was provided via surface mount conduit. Existing junction boxes were in rough shape and needed to be cleaned up.
  4. Warm color temperature to match historic style
    • The existing working monopoints and sconces utilized incandescent PAR38 lamping.
  5. Linear LED fixtures were installed at the upper cornice; however, were not operable. At the time that they had been in working condition, there was likely a stark difference in color temperature between the various building mounted lighting types.
  6. Optical performance to appropriately accent the unique façade details without excessive brightness.
    • The juxtaposition of the inset brick grid details along the linear upper cornice provided for a beautifully dramatic accent along the top of the building. The vertical brick sections between the arched windows of the façade are architecturally capped with eyebrows of stone slabs and the original carved stone “Hotel Jerome” building signage.
  7. The existing linear light was not working, and therefore the character of the cornice was lost to the darkness at night.
  8. The existing façade flood lights provided an unfortunate hot blob of light to the base of the expansive vertical brick sections and the architectural stone eyebrows were provided only slight shadows.

An extensive mock-up was performed comparing an array of products, lumen outputs, beam spreads, and color temperatures. The final solution utilized a combination of luminaire types to achieve the client’s desired outcome:

  • 4 foot long high performance linear wall graze luminaires were specified with a 2200 kelvin color temperature, 270 lumens per foot output, and 120 degree optic to provide an even line of light along the upper cornice of the building.
  • A single head point source luminaire was specified with a 2200 kelvin color temperature, high output 1,490 lumens, and elliptical 30 degree by 60 degree optic to expertly wash the vertical brick sections between the windows on the façade while highlighting the stone brows and historic building signage.
  • A special vertically oriented double head point source luminaire was specified with a 2200 kelvin color temperature, high output 1,490 lumens, and a 20 degree spot optic to provide both up and downlighting at the sharp building corners.
  • Historically revived gooseneck sconces utilizing LED PAR38 lamping are positioned at the entry balcony and flanking the signs at the building corners to add that special finishing touch.

In accordance with the City’s Dark Sky Initiative, the solution served to highlight the building without washing it out. The contrast of the façade lighting against the night sky is striking enough to draw attention to the hotel and its rich historic character within downtown Aspen, while maintaining an essence of subtlety and beauty to match the surrounding mountain environment.

Here at LS we are passionate about meaningful projects like this one, that have an impactful legacy and a beautiful story. This project is one of kind, with a long-standing reputation of excellence, and while it was an incredible design challenge, it was equally inspiring. We hope that you have a chance to visit Aspen, Colorado and when you do, take a walk down East Main Street at dusk – we bet you’ll love what you see.

We are also so proud to say that this project won a 2019 IES Illumination Award of Merit!