New Haven, CT

The re-lighting of the rare book collection at Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library brightens and refreshes the spaces without touching the fragile original ceilings. Previously, the chandeliers were the only light source. The glass cylinders of these chandeliers were too bright, too warm, and did not light the room perimeters sufficiently.

The existing chandeliers were refurbished with dimmable, 3000K LED lamps. Discreet linear LED uplights were added above cabinets, in window pockets, and under window sills at perimeter walls. The new lighting composition balances the lighting levels, adding brightness and improved color to the spaces. Most important, previously unnoticed ceiling details are revealed.

New, adjustable downlights and uplights are hidden within the chandelier in the 35’ high vaulted ceiling classroom. These discreet sources light the tables below and the ceiling above. The added fixtures can be dimmed separately, for added control.

Inventive yet unseen enhancements to the original, historic lighting elements magically transform the archives.


  • LIT Awards - Winner, Heritage Lighting Category

  • IES Illumination Award of Merit - Interior Lighting


Apicella + Bunton Architects


Christopher Gardner