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Colleen Applebaugh


OSRAM SYLVANIA Relights the Façade of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House

The Situation

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House was established by the Fifth Act of the First Congress of the United States on July 31, 1789, and today, as U.S. Customs Border Protection under the Department of Homeland Security, it remains the nation’s oldest federal agency. The monumental U.S. Custom House building sits prominently on Bowling Green in New York City’s Battery Park.

 The U.S. Custom House is a steel-framed, seven-story structure, intentionally designed to face the historically significant Bowling Green rather than the harbor. The building’s rusticated first-story supports three stories of single and paired full-height, engaged Corinthian columns. The fifth-story is encompassed within the frieze of the massive entablature. Above the entablature is the sixth story. The seventh story is within the mansard roof. A grand stair, facing Bowling Green, provides a stately approach to the building.

The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976. In 1979, New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission gave city landmark status to the exterior and public interest spaces of the building.

Patricia DiMaggio, OSRAM SYLVANIA engineer for the New York area, noticed the current of the façade of the historic U.S. Custom House was not doing it justice, and that many of the beautiful and unique architectural details were lost in the shadows. DiMaggio contacted Peter Jacobson at Con Edison, a partner in promoting energy-efficient for New York, who introduced her to John Haworth and Peter Brill at the Smithsonian, and then David Anthone of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), and the development of a new design and installation was soon underway. SYLVANIA Lighting Services agreed to donate installation labor for the project.

The Solution

Enlisting the expertise of designer Randy Sabedra of RS Lighting Design in Manhattan, the team went into the U.S. Custom House project with three important objectives: to maintain the historic and architectural integrity of the building; to replace older technologies with new, more energy-efficient and environmentally responsible products; and to ensure the safety of those people who live and work in the vicinity of the U.S. Custom House, and to those who visit by providing illuminated grounds.

“Aside from revitalizing the of the U.S. Custom House, producing energy savings was a large component of this project,” DiMaggio said. “SYLVANIA employed today’s most energy-efficient light sources. According to calculations by Con Edison, the GSA will lower its electrical load by 43.1 percent and is projected to save approximately $6654.14 on its annual electricity bill, which is the equivalent of 15.5 tons of CO² emissions using the Mayor’s PlaNYC 2030 conversion standard.”

The seven-story structure, containing 450,000 square feet and sitting on three city blocks, received an exterior overhaul in design. The previous on the ground floor was removed and replaced with HO LED lamps from IO Lighting, which are surface mounted linear floodlight fixtures, powered by OSRAM Power Supplies. A total of nine fixtures were installed in four separate ground floor sections, to provide a safe, well-lit sidewalk area.

Four statues, representing Asia, America, Europe and Africa, which are located at the front entrance of the Custom House, are now prominent features of the building, lit by the HO LED lamps, along with SYLVANIA METALARC® CERAMIC 70watt and 39watt PAR30 lamps, which emphasize the details of these unique architectural sculptures.

The third and fourth floors received IO Lighting HO LED fixtures at each of the 13 windows. At the sixth floor, sculptures representing the great commercial and seafaring powers of world history, are illuminated with OSRAM SYLVANIA METALARC POWERBALL 20watt PAR30s, with the beams angled to highlight the structures for recognition by viewers from the ground floor. The seventh floor received similar techniques, benefiting from METALARC POWERBALL 39watt PAR30 and METALARC CERAMIC 70watt PAR30 fixtures. Moon wash across the building façade was accomplished using 4 SeLux fixtures and 1000watt METALARC POWERBALL lamps, mounted on the roof deck of a neighboring building.

“Working with a building and project of this magnitude, there can be, and there were, many challenges from conception to end on this installation,” Sabedra said. “I’m proud to have been part of this project, and have the incredible opportunity to relight the façade of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, one of New York’s architectural and historical treasures, and now a shining focal point in the Bowling Green revitalization.”

Battery Park, New York City, New York


  • 2 IO Lighting Line 2.0HO-E-3kHO-60g-102-1-18-5*-E*
  • 32 IO Lighting Line 2.0HO-E-3kHO-30g-102-1-36-5*-E*
  • 26 IO Lighting Line 2.0HO-E-3kHO-60g-102-1-36-5*-E*
  • 8 IO Lighting Line 2.0HO-E-3kHO-60g-102-1-54-5*-E*
  • 44 IO Lighting Line 2.0HO-E-3kHO-5-102-1-54-5*-E*
  • SYLVANIA OT96/120-277/24E Power Supplies
  • 46 Hydrel “4630 Yoke Mount” Series
  • 4 1000 watt SYLVANIA METALARC BT38
  • 4 SeLux PRO22 1000 watt Architectural Luminaires