A tale of two ballrooms


Ballrooms and meeting rooms represent an important amenity and profit center for hotels, clubs and conference facilities. BLTa  was confronted with two very different ballroom design problems – each requiring provision of a state of the art signature ballroom but in very different environments. One recent project involved renovating the historic Lincoln Ballroom at the Union League of Philadelphia, a turn of the century landmark building supporting the operations of a 3,000 member private club. Located in a beautiful historic building, the ballroom’s aesthetics were tired and suffered from poor acoustics and lighting.

A second project involved the renovation of an existing ballroom and creation of a new 10,000-square-foot ballroom as the centerpiece of renovations at the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott. This business oriented hotel was facing increasing demand for additional meeting space as well as the need for a large gathering space to support community events as well as planned festivities associated with Super Bowl XLVIII.


Realization of a new Lincoln Ballroom involved a complex balance between respect for historical integrity and the need to provide contemporary technology. Committed to creating the unrealized original design developed by Horace Trumbauer, the design team carefully integrated new mechanical, lighting and audio-visual systems into the space. Several lighting systems were provided including focus lighting for table arrangements and historical paintings and lecture-hall style lighting for AV and televised production.  Elegant new drapery on the monumental arched windows, upholstered walls and specialized acoustic plaster in the ceiling coffers provide historical backdrop and support the acoustic requirements.  A refinished floor and refurbished and new chandeliers add the final sparkle to this one of a kind space.

The Marriott ballroom was designed to be flexible, both internal to the room and in conjunction with an existing 6,000-square-foot ballroom. Sub-dividable into eight separate spaces and sharing a common enlarged pre-function area with the existing ballroom, the new ballroom features state-of-the-art lighting and video capabilities. Its signature is a contemporary ceiling of floating geometric forms. Side pre-function spaces feature natural light and are designed to be utilized as additional service space as required by large events. The main pre-function also features a naturally lit end wall and is arranged to connect to the main lobby providing overflow space for large crowds.

Return on Design

Already one of the pre-eminent ballrooms, the Union League’s Lincoln Ballroom may now be the pre-eminent ballroom in the region. It fits in seamlessly with the rest of the club facilities, is consistently reserved by members and professional organizations and reinforces the history of the landmark building.  Ninety minutes to the north, the new Marriott ballroom not only positions the hotel to accommodate larger conventions but allows for a range of events from weddings to conferences to seminars helps the property be well positioned to meet the demand of business travelers and the local community for years to come.

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