This past summer, the Forum of Rome was officially reborn on the shores of New Jersey. Invitees to a ribbon-cutting ceremony to christen architectural improvements at Caesars Atlantic City ascended escalators into a four-story atrium complete with 30' (9m) columns, imported marble, themed statuary, and the modern-day touch of a fiber-optic ceiling twinkling with thousands of stars.

The 60'-high (18m) ceiling is made of Pyrok, an acoustical spray material painted by Evergreen Studios to evoke the feeling of a realistic skyscape above a 17-ton marble statue of Caesar Augustus in the Temple Lobby. Lighting designer Kristina Selles, working with Brennan Beer Gorman Monk/ Interiors of New York, created a ceiling that blends different lighting effects into a fitting cap for the renovated hotel and casino.

Around the perimeter, hidden from view by an architecturally detailed cove, is a custom (bright blue) cold cathode lighting system, manufactured by Sign Spec of New Jersey. Supplementing this system are 26 Elliptipar uplights using 400W metal-halide lamps, blue filters, and specially designed reflectors that prevent any light from illuminating the walls or cornice. The even wash of blue light is designed to recreate early dawn in Rome.

Selles used more than 1.2 million feet (549,000m) of optical fiber to create the stars. Drama Lighting of Buffalo, NY, installed the custom-designed ceiling, which consists of more than 12,000 light points using 20 Lumenyte PH3000 illuminators with 150W HID arc lamps. The ceiling is below a plenum-rated airspace, made of joists and structural steel, that adheres closely to fire safety codes.

The fiber, installed below the plenum, is disguised by the Pyrok treatment, which is approximately 3" thick. Fiber-optic lensed fixtures (end points) are not used; instead the fiber end is specially prepared, and gently bent toward the interior of the atrium. Illuminators are in special mechanical rooms above the plenum--a true definition of remote source lighting.

The effect is different than a conventional starfield. There are no shooting stars in this ceiling, only a subtle twinkling effect. "We were able to simulate realistic stars with a mix of fiber sizes," says Tom Drew, president of Drama Lighting. "If the fiber is all the same size, the effect is flat and one-dimensional. Our approach makes the fiber more difficult to bundle, but it results in a more realistic look. Most of the fiber is Drama 3 (.030" diameter), a PMMA fiber, supplemented with Drama 4, Drama 6, and Drama 8 fiber. The performance specification called for a typical run of 150' (46m), and through meticulous fiber preparation and proprietary installation techniques, we were able to meet it."