150th anniversary celebrated with Martin architectural lighting solutions

17 Nov 2015

In honor of its 150th birthday, the city of South Bend, Indiana, USA is celebrating their rich history with a yearlong schedule of events throughout 2015 for residents to deepen their connection to the community. In celebration of the St. Joseph River – the city’s historic waterway and greatest natural resource – Indiana-based Lighting Designer, Rob Shakespeare, was commissioned to develop an interactive lighting display. Known as “South Bend River Lights”, the display is a permanent addition to the downtown landscape that is located along the banks of the Riverwalk in the heart of South Bend and is fully self-sustaining through hydroelectric power provided by the river itself. Illuminated by more than 80 LED fixtures from the Exterior™ 400 and Tripix™ Wash ranges, River Lights was officially opened on May 22 2015, the anniversary of South Bend’s incorporation.

See the video here.

The River Lights installation features interactive elements that detect motion, prompting the lights to change color or alter their pattern. As a permanent installation, the display is programmed to activate every afternoon, 30 minutes before sunset and continue until sunrise. River Lights is also programmed to cease interactivity at five minutes before the top of each hour, when white light illuminates the river in its natural state. When the hour strikes, the current time flashes and the color sequences begin again. The design can also be thematically colored to correspond with holidays and events.

Shakespeare’s lighting design includes five main elements: “The Light Trio”, “The Light Forest”, “The Crescent Sculpture”, Mark di Suvero’s “Keepers of the Fire” sculpture and lighting on the Jefferson Boulevard Bridge. Shakespeare installed Martin Professional architectural lighting fixtures exclusively to illuminate the underside of the Jefferson Boulevard Bridge, which was built in 1905 and is one of the oldest bridges in the area. Shakespeare’s design accentuates the bridge’s many beautiful architectural details, including the long arches that sweep across the river and support it. Shakespeare said:
“The illumination of Jefferson Boulevard Bridge is unlike any other design. We wanted to capitalize on the light reflecting off the water to kinetically illuminate the under arch. Most vantage points have a clear view of the under arches, and with the reflection of the bridge in the water, the arch effect creates full ellipses. It’s really quite enchanting.”  

To highlight the bridge’s graceful curves, Shakespeare selected Exterior™ 400 RGBW and custom variant Exterior 400 RGBB luminaires. The custom RGBB variant features twice the amount of blue LEDs for an even stronger punch on the blue colors. The Exterior 400 RGBW fixtures are aimed at the water to reflect light onto the under bridge surface while the Exterior 400 RGBB fixtures provide surface color for the arches. Color contrast is achieved with the RGBB fixtures and the RGBW spots used to reflect the water, creating the effect of light dancing on the bridge’s underside. The reflections also allow the lighting to change with the mood of the water – as the waves become more turbulent, the light moves more erratically on the bridge. A spill ring accessory helps control side flare, guiding the viewer’s focused toward the bridge and its reflection on the river’s surface. Shakespeare elaborated:
“The Martin fixtures work spectacularly under the low elliptical bridge arches. The Exterior 400 series has a great combination of compact size and punch that contributes significantly to the impact of the whole River Lights installation. Having remote device management (RDM) also proved useful when troubleshooting the system – most of which is only accessible via a construction barge since many fixtures are suspended above the river flow and are difficult to access.”

Shakespeare deployed an additional 15 Tripix Wash lights on the east end of the bridge with eight fixtures illuminating the pedestrian walkway in ever-changing pastel colors and seven fixtures lighting the bridge support columns. The support column lighting is also coordinated with the Exterior 400 luminaires to enhance the east arch.

Brad Haynes, Senior Manager Product/Application Support, Martin Professional said:
“Lighting intrinsically creates mood and emotion, and River Lights truly promotes camaraderie and a sense of pride for all who call the South Bend area home. HARMAN, Martin Professional’s parent organization, has deep roots in Indiana and it was an honor to play a part in celebrating the rich history of the area. From working with the extremely talented Robert Shakespeare to the wonderful support of the local community, it was truly a collaboration for all to be proud of.”

Proposed in 2012 by Downtown South Bend Inc. (DTSB), a not-for-profit organization that promotes the revitalization of the downtown area in partnership with the City of South Bend, River Lights serves as not only a recreational attraction for the community and visitors but also as a source of economic development and community advancement. The project also showcases the city’s ongoing green initiatives by combining renewable power from a new hydroelectric turbine installed at a nearby dam with modern lighting technology that minimizes light pollution.

Martin equipment

Exterior 400, 41 pcs.
Exterior 400 RGBB, 41 pcs.
Tripix Wash, 15 pcs.