Breakers Hotel



One of America’s most iconic fountains has been reborn. The demolition and replication of the 548-sq.-ft. Florentine-style fountain at the Breakers Hotel and Spa in Palm Beach, FL, once again greets guests at the front of the hotel under dramatic lighting supplied by Acclaim Lighting, Los Angeles, CA.

The fountain’s magnificent, Italian Renaissance design and breathtaking setting give the Breakers its exotic appeal. The main fountain at the Breakers was built during construction of the current hotel in 1926. It was inspired by a fountain located at the entrance to the Boboli Gardens on the Pitti Palace grounds in Florence, Italy. The fountain was created from designs by Italian sculptor Leo Lentelli.

The cast-stone fountain consists of a central sculptural feature of four nymphs supporting two tiers of basins, spindles, and a finial within an octagonal pool. There are eight putti holding either alligators or herons alternating around the basin atop the corners of the pool copings. The pool is raised within a stepped plaza that is centrally sited at the terminus of the main drive just west of the hotel entrance.

Unfortunately, over time, the ocean’s salt air caused significant damage to the fountain’s underlying metal structure. Cracks and pieces of the fountain fell off, including some of the arms of the putti and nymphs. As the underlying metal structure declined, it caused a failure of the cast stone itself.

Beauty Restored

Recently, the existing materials were preserved or replicated, as needed, according to the conservation requirements for a landmark historic site. The fountain’s operability also had to meet current building code and industry standards.

The opportunity to reconstruct the fountain also provided the opportunity to use new materials that waterproof the cast stone and rebar. The project included removing and rebuilding the steps and two bordering benches. The cost to bring the fountain back to life was estimated at $1.2 million.

Focus Lighting, based in New York City, had the monumental task of returning the fountain to its glory days under the night sky. The architectural lighting design firm carefully analyzed the fountain to properly enhance and accentuate its architectural beauty with light.

One of the contractors involved in the revitalization of the seaside resort since 1992, Weitz Co., with offices in Florida, hired Kuhns Engineering Corp., Jupiter, FL, to implement the conceptual lighting scheme. David Lithgow, president of Kuhns, said, “Our main criteria was finding a high-quality lighting system that could deliver precise colors and perform for many years in the very corrosive salt-air environment.”

Kuhns selected Lighting Dynamics Inc., Tamarac, FL, to provide lighting products and controls that met the criteria. Tony Plonner, founding principal of Lighting Dynamics, recommended Dyna Flood QW, Flex Tube SE, and DMX controls from Acclaim Lighting.

Accentuating Craftsmanship

Dyna Flood QW, a high-powered quad-color LED flood unit that supplies precisely matched colors in outdoor settings, was strategically placed around the fountain to highlight its architecture. Using Acclaim’s quad-color technology, Dyna Flood QW has an RGB+white color recipe. Because quad-color technology mixes the colors under the lens, unlike traditional technology, the flood delivers more precise color matching, as well as improved aesthetics where the fixture itself is visible. In addition, each model features an auto-switching, multi-voltage power supply, and an on-board touch-sensitive menu that allows the color scheme to be changed.

“The Breakers is able to makes seasonal lighting changes without diminishing the architectural beauty of the fountain. For instance, lighting colors are changed for Breast Cancer Awareness, Autism Awareness, St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, and other holidays,” said Lithgow. “The lighting system is controlled with a DMX-512 for color and dimming options.”

The Dyna Flood QW features brightness of 1,579 lumens at a 20-deg. beam angle, delivering efficacy of 26.3 lumens/W. Consuming 60 W, the units are warranted for five yr. and retain 70% of brightness at 50,000 hr.

For lighting around the benches, Flex Tube SE, a side-emitting, outdoor-rated, flexible LED tube in multiple color temperatures, was specified. It provides a 160-deg. beam angle while operating off of 24 VDC and consumes only 3.3 W/ft. Flex Tube is available in color temperatures of 2,700, 3,000, 3,500, and 4,000 K in red, green, blue, and RGB. IP68-rated and submersible to 3 ft., Flex Tube SE features a UV-coated, saltwater-resistant, flexible silicone jacket that can bend to a diameter as small as 4.8 in. Several mounting channels allowed installers to discretely install tubes under and around the benches.

The lighting system was installed from June to late November 2015. According to Lithgow, the lighting fixtures go through a rigorous salt-bath test daily at the seaside resort. Lithgow said, “We were impressed with the construction and performance of the lighting. More important, the guests at the Breakers are enjoying one of America’s most beautiful fountains during the day and at night.”