Grammy Award-winning rapper, Jay-Z recently unveiled his 40/40 Club’s $10-million makeover in Manhattan.
Two weeks after his wife, Beyonce, gave birth to their first child in January, Jay-Z (a.k.a. Shawn Corey Carter) had another reason to pop multiple bottles of Champagne. His 40/40 Club sports bar and lounge, co-owned with his business partner Juan Perez and initially opened in 2003, recently re-opened after being shuttered for a whopping $10-million renovation last summer. Among the party guests at the grand re-opening were billionaire and philanthropist Warren Buffett, film director/writer/director Spike Lee, music executive and entrepreneur Steve Stoute, president of Def Jam Music Group Kevin Liles, and Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia.
The newly remodeled club spans 13,500 square feet and creates an ambiance that combines the lavish look of a Manhattan penthouse with the glamour of court-side seats at a championship game.
The name 40/40 is a baseball term for a record set by only four players in the history of the sport – Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Alfonso Soriano –for hitting 40 home runs and stealing 40 bases in a single season.
The idea for the club came from Jay-Z’s love of sports. “I wanted to create an environment that is conducive to my lifestyle while watching the games at the same time,” Jay-Z has said. The recent renovation and expansion draws inspiration from the grandeur and opulence of New York City nightlife.
The multi-level space features a 20′ x 20’ illuminated resin-topped bar encircling an 18’-high illuminated Champagne tower. Supple leather upholstered wall paneling, custom walnut millwork with smoked bronze mirrors, plus lounge banquettes make the space feel luxurious. A large marble stepped arena-style seating section provides guests with a stunning view of the four 165-inch, state-of-the-art video walls. The new second floor catwalk allows guests to survey the scene and relax at the semi-private, mezzanine bar, and seating area. The space also includes 30 or more 55-inch flat screen monitors plus a one-of-a-kind jersey hall of fame featuring the 40/40 club members.
Upstairs there are five VIP lounges available for private events. Two of the lounges – the elit and the Corzo – are distinguished by bespoke seating surrounding a custom billiards table, two 55-inch HD TVs, a custom chandelier, cerused oak paneling with silver leaf detailing, and handsome wood floors. Both rooms come fully equipped with state-of-the-art independent audio and visual systems including an iPod dock. The elit lounge can hold 60 guests; the Corzo can accommodate 50.
The Player’s Lounge and Owner’s Suite have similar décor and also boast an independent AV system, two 55-inch HD screens, and an iPod dock. They can hold up to 20 guests each.
The largest VIP area – the Jay-Z Lounge – can handle up to 100 people and has four 75-inch large-screen HD TVs, two 55-inch HD TVs, a unique pool table, a custom chandelier, oak paneling, and an infinity mirror-style display case featuring sports memorabilia.
The responsibility of putting the renovation in the best light fell to award-winning Focus Lighting, headquartered in Manhattan. The design team used lighting to bring out the richness of the materials and highlight specific architectural elements.
Upon entering the 40/40 Club, the visitor’s eye is drawn toward the 18’‐high champagne tower at the center of the main room by the placement of low-profile LED light strips installed within the shelves. To maximize the visual impact, extensive mockups were carried out, resulting in a design that incorporates lighting in front of and behind the bottles with a background of mirrors covered with a metallic screen. All of these elements – combined with the reflectivity of the bottles – form a glittering centerpiece.
The resin bar top is illuminated using two rows of lensed LED strips precisely placed at the back edge of the resin to produce a warm, even glow. Low level lighting integrated into architectural features, such as the arches on the side walls and the banquette bases, combine with decorative fixtures to evoke the warmth and comfort of a residence.
“There were two main challenges to overcome,” explains lighting designer Kelly Hannon. “The foremost challenge was harmoniously integrating the lighting concept with the four 10’ x 5’ TV arrays mounted to the catwalk. Since the club is formulated as a sports bar, making sure the game was completely visible and unimpeded by the lighting was key to meeting the owners’ needs. Luckily, the solution to the problem dovetailed perfectly with another primary goal of making the club feel almost residential.
To avoid creating glare in the monitors, the Focus Lighting team studied sight lines to make sure that any large radiant surfaces or fixtures wouldn’t reflect in the screens. “This led us away from using large decorative lighting fixtures over the stadium seating area,” she comments. “Instead we placed glowing features, such as the side arches, at eye level in areas running perpendicular to the main screens. We also included elements like the toe kicks at the lower levels.”
The central Champagne bottle wall and the gleaming bar top act in tandem as a beautiful frame for the action on screen without overwhelming it. “Having this low level, side lighting as our primary source of light created a warm glow on people, similar to the effect you would get from residential table lamps,” Hannon states. “On the other side of this issue was dealing with the amount of light that the screens themselves output. We worked with the AV company to turn the brightness down and limit the bluish-white light affecting the space without compromising on the quality of the screen image,” she notes.
“Another challenge we ran into was the ceiling height. The club ceiling is a continuous plane at an elevation of 18 feet from the first floor and shrinking down to 7 feet as the stadium seating rises up to the second level,” Hannon explains. “It was important for us to accent features such as the bar top and tables to add the extra sparkle near people, but choosing a lamp that could work at all elevations proved [daunting]. Since the different elevations were adjacent – with the catwalk running through all ceiling heights – and because we wanted to keep the ceiling as clean as possible, we determined that we needed to use one lamp in all areas. The small aperture of an MR16 accent would be perfect on the low ceilings, but the mockups determined that we could not get the tight beam spread needed on the higher ceilings.”
The opposite was true of the AR111 lamp, according to Hannon. The tight beam spread worked perfectly in the high areas, but the fixture became overwhelming in size on the lower ceiling. After mocking up a number of other options, the Focus Lighting team settled on the AR70 as an ideal compromise between beam spread and fixture size. The same tight 8⁰ lamp was used everywhere, with spread lenses added to provide the optimal spread at each level. The elevations were also dimmed separately so that the relative intensities could be balanced once the fixtures were aimed. “We tried to create a place that would be favorable to both men and women, and we think we have found it with the combination of sports and an upscale hip lounge,” said co-owner Juan Perez.