San Francisco-based Auerbach Glasow, architectural lighting design and consulting, worked closely with the design team of acclaimed Italian architect Gae Aulenti and the prominent firm of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum on the renovation of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. The Asian Art Museum is in the former San Francisco Public Library and houses the largest collection (15,000 pieces) of Asian art outside of Asia.

Auerbach Glasow designed the architectural lighting for the public spaces, galleries, and the exterior of the museum. The project retains the historic architectural lighting elements of the 1917 structure, and Auerbach Glasow designed the restoration and refurbishment of the original historic fixtures. The architectural lighting adds drama to the public spaces accenting the vaulted ceilings, moldings, inscriptions, and stone floors original to the building.

In the Main Entry, lighting highlights the ornate details of the foyer including its original light fixtures, plaster ceiling, and travertine walls. Auerbach Glasow restored existing original historic pendants that use compact fluorescent sources. The company replaced existing incandescent electrical components, slumped amber glass panels, and the historic torchieres’ existing electrical components with new compact fluorescent sources and white frosted glass. Recessed adjustable low-voltage MR16 framing projectors draw attention to the entry’s original architecture and illuminate the donors’ inscription wall.

On the main stair, Auerbach Glasow installed asymmetric quartz incandescent uplights, metal halide theatrical fixtures, and dimmable fluorescent striplights above the laylights. The lighting designers also integrated low-voltage adjustable accent lights to punctuate the glass art display cases in the loggia perimeter.

Samsung Hall, formerly the two-story card catalog room of the building’s Main Library, has been transformed into a special events and performance space. Auerbach Glasow provided the design for restoration and refurbishment of the Hall’s original three-tiered chandelier and fitted the piece with new electrical components including special clear carbon filament lamps. Asymmetric quartz incandescent uplights produce soft, warm ambient lighting and highlight the room’s grand arched windows and coffered ceiling. Two separate downlighting systems have been integrated into the historic ceiling: a dimmable incandescent system whose primary use is for parties and events and a switched metal halide system for clean up and lectures.

The newly created grand Central Court marks the most significant architectural difference in the new Asian Art Museum and the former San Francisco Library building. The Central Court is modern and airy with two large skylights, accentuating the grandeur of the original structure. Daylight fills the space and brings it to life creating a dramatic public gathering space for art exhibits and special events. Skylight uplights illuminate the building above the Central Court skylights and emphasize the vertical height of the space. Custom fabricated rectangular multiple-head adjustable PAR38 lamps are a key lighting feature of this area used for general lighting and art accent lighting. Custom fabricated square and rectangular frame multiple-head adjustable low-voltage MR16 lamps were used for downlight and art accent light. This signature light fixture, based upon an original design by Aulenti and Castiglioni, is integrated within architectural notches in the floating ceiling panels.

In the exterior, Auerbach Glasow refurbished existing original historic light standards including electrical wiring, a new metal halide source, and a glass refractor globe. Pole mounted metal halide area lights illuminate the plaza, supplement the historic light standards and visually reinforce the main entrance gathering area. The base of the building is floodlit with surface mounted asymmetric compact fluorescent wallwashers. Metal halide PAR20, metal halide PAR30, and metal halide PAR38 accent lights, and metal halide PAR30 downlights illuminate various parts of the façade. The top crown articulation is backlit with linear fluorescent fixtures. Metal halide PAR30 uplights backlight the Larkin Street façade second-level colonnade creating a silhouette effect for passers-by.

Project Team:
Architectural Team Gae Aulenti, FAIA in association with the joint venture of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, LDA Architects, and Robert Wong Architect
Auerbach Glasow Team:
S. Leonard Auerbach, IALD, LC, Founder and President
Larry French, IALD, LC, Principal
Susan Porter, LC, Associate
Lily Tom, Technical Designer
Yukiko Yoshida, Lighting Designer