Beautiful view of a lit interior space from the exterior of the building, designed by AKLD

Ritz Carlton - Chicago, Illinois

Architectural rendering of Chicago, Illinois


Midwest Practicality v. East and West Coast Delivery Method

In the extremely competitive urban Chicago hospitality market, it came time for an upgrade of the iconic Ritz Carlton brand. All public spaces had gone through a major face lift recently; however, the guest rooms, suites, and apartment dwelling units were all in need of modernization. With over 450 units to consider, schedule, cost, and functionality were paramount in each and every design and installation decision.

Where to Start

Schematic Design Completed - Interior Designer and Lighting Representative/Distributor AKLD designers were tasked with a peer review of the schematic design which had been completed by a west coast Interior Designer and an East Coast lighting distributor with in-house lighting design.

The interior designer had a clear vision of what they wanted. The design was high end, classic, simple, and clean. It was clear that the lighting design was there to support and complement the interiors. All decorative fixtures were selected by the interior designer, the lighting distributor specified the architectural lighting and the lamping for the decorative fixtures.

Schematic Lighting Product Specifications

  • MR16 halogen lighting fixtures throughout room entry and bathroom areas
    • Halogen provides a lovely appearance
    • Halogens are no longer readily available
    • Lighting equipment was propriety with custom finishes
  • Dimmers as specified were nonspecific local wall box dimmers
    • The interior designer had considered the appearance, color, location, and ganging of the controls
    • Functionality, dimming protocol, or compatibility of the dimming/lighting system was not considered or coordinated
    • Controls as specified did not meet current hospitality codes

Design Development -Interior Designer and AKLD lighting design
Agnostic/Impartial Equipment Investigative Process

  • AKLD is truly an independent lighting design firm that strives to be the best team member in a complex and collaborative process.
  • AKLD does not sell, install, or profit from the sales of any lighting equipment; therefore, a completely agnostic investigation of the most current lighting solutions was possible.
  • Lighting equipment selection was narrowed down to (8) fixtures from a wide selection manufacturer. Each manufacturer provided samples and budgetary pricing for the selected fixtures. AKLD, the architect, and the owner reviewed the samples and the pricing of these products. Two products were selected, specified, and competitively bid.
  • Controls equipment selection started with knowns and unknowns. The specified controls system did not meet code, nor did it offer the Ritz the high-end functionality. To enhance the guest, experience the Ritz wanted the ability to prepare the room prior to the arrival of each guest. The existing building automation system had a great deal of transferable, compatible functionality. AKLD was able to integrate systems that added functionality, met code requirements, and saved money.

Items to Consider and AKLD Recommendations

lighting examples from Ritz Carlton
lighting examples from Ritz Carlton hotel bathroom
lighting examples from Ritz Carlton hotel bedroom

Consideration 1 - Appearance/Performance

  • The Ritz required a lighting solution that provided the guest with a welcoming, warm, residential environment.
  • All lighting controls must deliver flicker free dimming, meet code, and be capable of remote operations.
  • The most important factor in hospitality is the guest experience - AKLD needed to ensure the lighting delivered. First impressions are everything.

AKLD Recommendation 1 - Great Light Quality, High Color Rendering, Perfect Dimming

  • AKLD was able to confirm that the selected products delivered the desired high-quality lighting.
  • Product was selected based on the smoothness of the light beam and the ability to render fabric and skin tones in the most flattering manner.
  • Certainty that quality of light remained as high when the light was dimmed as it did when on full brightness was essential.

Consideration 2 -Technology

  • It was the expectation that the lighting solution was to be of the highest quality, last at least 20 years, be low maintenance, energy efficient, cost effective, and have ease of installation.
  • The controls system equipment must be compatible and meet code.

AKLD Recommendation 2 - Code Compliance, Integral LED Light Engine, Compatible Drivers and Controls

  • The availability and quality of lighting equipment with integral LED is constantly evolving and is at a level which the use of integral LED lighting engines was the best consideration.
  • AKLD designed a future ready system:
    • Meeting the adopted code requirements.
    • Using use of compatible light engines, drivers, and controls. This included ensuring that dimmed equipment was grouped properly to eliminate any possibility of uneven dimming or annoying flickering.
    • TDeveloped a controls sequence of operations that offered the Ritz the right sized functionality within the budget.

Consideration 3 - Cost

  • Cost is always a factor. When multiplying each individual cost times 450 rooms any decision can multiply exponentially.

AKLD Recommendation 3 - Save On Equipment Cost, Install Cost, and Maintenance Cost

  • In evaluating the necessity of each and every fixture, AKLD was able to reduce the overall quantity of fixtures by a minimum of two fixtures per room by specifying high quality, current technology.
  • Developing a multi name specification and competitively bidding was invaluable to providing the most beneficial equipment cost.
  • The reduction of fixtures over the totality of the project greatly reduced the installation cost; why use two fixtures when one will do?
  • The use of integral LED assured a single supplier of both LED light engines and drivers. This streamlined the procurement process and eliminated unnecessary compatibility challenges.
  • Integral LED instead of the use of LED replacement lamps and MR16 transformers reduced size, weight, lead time, and failure rate of the installed equipment
  • AKLD’s extreme attention to confirming equipment compatibility reduced costly and time-consuming troubleshooting after receipt of equipment in the field.

A Better Product for a Great Rate:

AKLD’s focus remained the delivery of a project that would provide the guest with a very positive first impression and the Ritz’s best value. The inclusion of an independent lighting designer to the project team made this project a success aesthetically, functionally, and financially. AKLD Lighting Design aided our client, and the owner, in savings, running smoothly, on time, and without headaches.

Value Delivered:

  • Collaborative design process that included the owner, architect, interior designer, product manufacturers, competitive bidders, and hotel guest considerations
  • Reduction in installation costs because of reduced fixtures
  • Changing from halogen to LED fixtures and reduction in fixtures subsequently reduced energy cost
  • Performance and functionality that accommodated the high-end expectations of both the Ritz and their guest expectations
  • A better lighting project with minimal design fee and maximum savings