Stephen Girard, a Philadelphia merchant and philanthropist, donated his wealth and real estate to the City of Philadelphia upon his death in 1830. Built in 1896, the Stephen Girard building was erected on the corner of Ludlow and 12th, on a piece of land donated by Girard himself. 125 years later, this historically landmarked building houses Canopy by Hilton Philadelphia Center City, a 185-key, 164,446 GSF boutique hotel.
In Canopy by Hilton Philadelphia Center City, The Lighting Practice focused on creating a unique and sophisticated design. It was crucial to the client to design within the historical context of the building.
The impressive presence of Canopy in the Central City neighborhood is due to its expertly designed façade lighting, which honors the history of the building and highlights the Beaux Arts architectural features. Senior Lighting Designer Caitlin Bucari enjoyed designing around and showcasing those historical elements.
“What was so great for me working on this project is the marriage of the historic architecture and modern technology”, says Caitlin Bucari, Senior Lighting Designer, “Highlighting the rich details of the façade in a modern way that had never before been viewed in that context and celebrating the workmanship and quality of this building façade was very satisfying”.
As a historic building, the team worked with the existing structural conditions when designing the spaces, sometimes challenging their approach, and requiring creative solutions.
“The technology that we have available and ways to camouflage it into the façade is what makes the effect the most successful, as your focus is on the art that’s being illuminated, without distraction from the source”, says Caitlin Bucari.
Architectural light plays a supportive role in the hotel’s design. Expertly placed cove lighting showcases the ornate trim and millwork inside the lobby and public spaces, while custom decorative fixtures create visual interest. In the interior, the team chose to lower ambient light levels to allow the custom decorative lighting fixtures to take center stage. The team collaborated on the custom lighting fixture designs and assisted in choosing the lamps, ensuring proper light levels in the guest rooms.
The lobby and restaurant spaces of the hotel use materials, like brass, marble and tile, to call back to that specific era of the building’s history. Despite the historic context of those materials, the design team expertly used them in contemporary forms, calling back to the past while modernizing the design.
This bespoke boutique hotel pays homage to its history, while achieving a contemporary, playful atmosphere, making it a unique experience for hotel guests.