The architecture of Monona Terrace is enhanced by large dome-shaped light fixtures, one of the few acrylic fixtures designed by Wright. Each fixture has several acrylic tubes, bent in circles of various sizes that are adhered to the inside of the surface of the dome in concentric shapes.
Monona Terrace is a popular destination for thousands of tourists every summer. It overlooks Lake Monona and offers many spectacular views. The summer months have average temperatures in the low eighties and are mostly mild. The harsh winters are another story.
Madison has an average winter temperature of just 7°F and an all-time low of -38 °F recorded in 1996. These extreme temperature fluctuations are damaging to any material. Architectural Plastics was contracted to replace the existing light fixtures with more robust fixtures that would last longer.
After examining the existing fixtures, several weak points were found that needed to be addressed. For the new domes, a higher grade of acrylic was used. A new method of bending and finishing the internal tubing was also developed by Architectural Plastics. The tubing that is glued to the inside of the hemisphere has various radii as the dome changes dimensions. Several separate forming jigs were used to shape the tubing.
To keep dirt and insects out, the ends of the tubes are capped with clear acrylic circles. The previous fabricator had used plugs to cap the tubes. Since the plugs expanded and contracted at a different rate than the acrylic, they caused cracks in the tubes. Architectural Plastics’ design eliminated this problem while offering a cleaner aesthetic.