photographer: © Leni Schwendinger, © CARMAN
The road under the Second Street Bridge has been transformed into a plaza – filled with plantings, seats and pedestrian spaces to host festivals and celebrations – shaded by the dynamically illuminated overpass.
Leni Schwendinger Light Projects’ streetscape scope included a service road and vacant land alongside the Clark Memorial Bridge. The historic cantilevered truss bridge, locally known as Second Street Bridge, crosses the Ohio River. Conveniently located adjacent to the new Yum Arena, the objective was to transform the off-ramp into a vibrant promenade.
Schwendinger’s goal for the illumination: “using simple, inexpensive – but innovative – means I wanted to transform the heavy infrastructure into a gently breathing enclosure for the new plaza space.”
Less than one-year after the contract was awarded, Light Projects’ illumination and color design opened to celebrants in October 2010. The project was funded by the ARRA stimulus program, which called for a fast-tracked and economical design concept and solution.
Cross streets Washington and Witherspoon join Second Street lined with a row of wooden buildings on Washington which present their old timey “Whiskey Row” back doors to the street. The Iron Quarter buildings are being renovated into hotels, restaurants and bars. When Light Projects arrived, a generally disheveled, chipped and neglected sensibility pervaded the vicinity.
Light Projects participated in a design charrette in November 2009. The stakeholder workshop set the tone and direction for the design. “Bright” and “welcoming” were keywords for the lighting.
To create an inviting urban living room, Light Projects designed the illumination for seating areas, sidewalks and plaza. For the room’s “ceiling”, the underside of the iron bridge is enhanced with a floating effect of cast light, outlining and illuminating the I-beam surfaces and rivet textures. The duo-tone, red and gold color scheme is balanced with the cream color of paint coating. The colors – bridge as canvas and the lighting – celebrate Whiskey Row’s heritage of amber liquid bourbon and colors of sunset.
Light Projects selected energy-saving fluorescent tubes for the bridge lighting – simple, industrial lighting fixtures with a twist – the luminaires were filtered with colored glass and controlled by Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI). DALI is an electronic network protocol that is generally used for lighting in commercial buildings. Light Projects adapted it for exterior use and complex lighting sequences.
Another technological innovation is a line of bright beacons mounted on the face of the bridge, which are programmed in dynamic and rhythmic sequences each hour. Reconnecting with a French childhood friend turned lighting manufacturer, Schwendinger discovered LED flashers famed for lighting up the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The whimsical LED sequences countdown the hours, from sunset to midnight on weekdays, and sunset to 2:00 AM on Friday and Saturday.
On the hour, nightly, the sequences bring the old iron structure to life; an invitation to visit a newly developed Whiskey Row, the plaza itself and Yum Arena.
Project partners: CARMAN, Landscape Design