To truly appreciate to the lighting of “The Grand Niche” at the Rialto Theater in Joliet Illinois is to appreciate the history of this property as well as it’s beauty.
The Rialto Theatre opened on May 24th, 1926 as a “vaudeville movie palace”. Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment from the early 1880’s until the early 1930’s consisting on separate and unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill.
When the doors of the new Rialto open tomorrow, Joliet will have one of the finest theaters in the United States, as experts say there is nothing to compare with it in any city of similar size, and it stands on even terms with the modern motion picture palaces of Chicago and New York.”
- Joliet Sunday Herald News
In April of 1980 the Rialto Theatre was renovated as a “performing arts center” and restored beyond it’s original magnificence. Again in 2006 a $5 Million Capital Campaign to Polish the Jewel of Joliet was embarked upon with the support of individuals and businesses from the community and surrounding areas.
In 2010 our company had the privilege of illuminating one of this property’s most magnificent features, it’s “Grand Niche” which rises 100’ 1” above it’s Chicago St. main entrance. Prior to our company’s work on this project there were 2 quartz fixtures illuminating this area and it was barely visible at night. The client was not interested in illuminating the niche from multiple levels due to the obvious challenges involved with maintenance and scaffolding required to reach these areas and not to mention the desire to preserve this historic building and leave as small of a footprint as possible during the installation of this project but still needed to cover a large and tall area while overcoming the limitations that low voltage system pose in these situations.
The niche spans about 25’ wide and we used 15 spot lights along the inside perimeter of this area to illuminate the facade and eliminate unwanted shadowing with an additional 3 fixtures to illuminate the dome. By using 50 watt IRC MR16 lamps with a 10 degree beam spread we were able to get light all the way up to the dome of this structure with all fixtures mounted at the base of the niche. The base of the niche was a gravel roof top with an access door not wanting to disrupt the waterproofing of the rooftop yet provide a clean and professional looking installation piped all wiring in conduit along the bottom perimeter of the niche with mounting boxes at each fixture.
The result brought new life to to the outside of this historic property and the beauty of this structure that was once hidden at night is now visible from the main bridge leading in to the downtown area of Joliet.
The 18 fixtures used to illuminate “The Grand Niche” serve their purpose well in illuminating what is often the first glimpse of this historic building which has welcomed such notable performers as Liberace, The Three Stooges, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, The Blues Brothers, Jethro Tull and so many more.
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