Light Projects' Illuminationo of Louisville 2nd Street Bridge and Streetscape2nd Street Transportation Project (Louisville, KY)

Less than one year after the contract was awarded, Light Projects’ illumination and color design for Louisville’s 2nd Street Bridge and Streetscape opened to celebrants on October 13, 2010.  Officially named 2nd Street Transportation Project, the landscape architect was Carman and engineers HDR.  Our client was Louisville’s Downtown Development Corporation (DDC).  DDC and Carman navigated complex approval processes which included federal government agencies, State and City Department of Transportation, and the local Waterfront Development Corporation, among others. The project was funded by the ARRA stimulus  program; which called for a fast track and economical design concept and solution.

The streetscape area was a service road combined with adjacent vacant land running along side the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge.  The cantilevered truss bridge, locally known as 2nd Street bridge, crosses the Ohio River between Kentucky and Indiana. The bridge is in the National Register of Historic Places.

Light Projects LTD Illumination Louisville 2nd Street before images

Cross streets Washington and Witherspoon join 2nd Street. A row of wooden buildings on Washington present their old timey “Whiskey Row” back doors to the street.  The buildings of Iron Quarter on Washington are being renovated into hotels, restaurants and bars.  When Light Projects arrived a generally disheveled, chipped and neglected sensibility pervaded.

Light Projects LTD Illumination Louisville 2nd Street bridge before images

We visited the site and participated in a design charrette in November 2009.The stakeholder workshop set the tone and direction for the design. Bright and welcoming were the keywords for lighting.

Light Projects LTD Illumination Louisville 2nd Street mockup-day

Mock-ups were held as the bridge was being painted

Now, the underside of the bridge is enhanced with a floating effect of cast light; outlining and illuminating the I-beam surfaces and textures. The duo-tone color scheme — red and gold — is balanced with the cream color of paint coating. The colors — bridge as canvas and the lighting — are based on a celebration of amber liquid bourbon and colors of sunset.

Light Projects LTD Illumination Louisville 2nd Street lighting images

In-progress photographs during the last night of programming

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 buildings. We adapted it for our exterior use and complex lighting sequences.

Another technological innovation is a series of flasher beacons mounted on the face of the bridge. Whimsical sequences mark sunset and each hour afterward until 2:00 AM on weekends, and midnight during the week. These flashers are famous for lighting up the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Here, a little movie shot during programming that demonstrates the breathing sequence of color.

CultureNow is focused on cultural mapping and exhibitions about New York City. They called the other day and asked if I would talk about my work for their “Museum Without Walls” directory of podcasts.  The collection consists of first person discussions of art, architecture and other landmarks in the City.

Here are links to the podcasts:

Tidal Radiance

Tidal Radiance sculpture at Port Pavilion at Broadway Pier

Tidal Radiance, concept, custom glass, lighting design, projections

Coney Island Parachute Jump

Coney Island Parachute Jump Illumination

Coney Island Parachute Jump Illumination

Triple Bridge Gateway

Triple Bridge Gateway, Manhattan

Triple Bridge Gateway; concept, color, illumination

Dreaming in Color,

a Three-Dimensional Color Field

Dreaming in Color

Dreaming in Color, concept, materials, illumination

Much has been written about the Atlantic Avenue tunnel since Bob Diamond rediscovered access through a manhole to the storied passageway in 1980. Diamond shares this body of knowledge on occasional tours of the tunnel, an exploration I was eager to take – a lighting designer underground for two hours without light, except for the jittering, swirling, white-to-blue light of portable flashlights.

For the photo essay, scroll down, to read the entire textual story, link to Urban Omnibus

Once on the concrete subway platform, intent on getting to Brooklyn on time, I lost all thoughts of the sidewalk, streets, buildings and people above.

Once on the concrete platform, intent on getting to Brooklyn on time, I lost all thoughts of the sidewalk, streets, buildings and people above.

We descended the narrow ladder through a metallic-rimmed manhole right in the middle of the street, almost in the crosswalk

We descended the narrow ladder through a metallic-rimmed manhole right in the middle of the street, almost in the crosswalk

The darkness begat dreaminess, with shadows on walls and ceiling and flashlight beams moving, searching for clues in the stone

Photos by flashlight

Bob regaled us with the amazing history of the tunnel: the transportation, geology, the methodological digging of seven months, the criminal, the politically unethical and mercenary, the gunfight, the pirates, the Smokey Hollow slum gangs, the mustard gas and five-foot rats — in short, the folklore and the facts.

The best part about this activity, I decided, would be experiencing a 165-year old excavation by the illumination of 70 flashlights.

The best part about this activity, I decided, would be experiencing a 165-year old excavation by the illumination of 70 flashlights.

The coppery, incandescent glow of the underground

Looking back from the monumental wall, the darkened passage is defined by glimmering archways, a coppery, incandescent glow shot onto the barrel vault by clear glass incandescent-filament bulbs – a cathedral of stone, brick and dirt.

I descended once again, this time to the A train platform, enjoying the solidity of the comparatively grand concrete and tiled stairway.

I returned to reality – the overground world of daylight and cold and then I descended once again, this time to the A train platform, enjoying the solidity of the comparatively grand concrete and tiled stairway.

As I walked home I found my view adjusted: manholes, drains, basements, vault covers — there is a world down there!

As I walked home I found my view adjusted: manholes, drains, basements, vault covers — there is a world down there!

The vertical layers of New York City arranged themselves in my mind’s eye – I will never take over- and underground passage for granted again.

Born to go to Mexico City, “La Capital”

LS-Aztec_inspired

Leni aspired to Mexicana status, here pictured in red dress with Aztec-inspired embroidery

Growing up in Los Angeles Spanish language study started in 5th grade.  We created our own Spanish books – mine was over-sized with a hard cover surfaced in canvas and splatter paint.  the binding was tied with leather thong.  In my imagination, Mexico was associated with music, rich colors, copper metal, a land of deserts, carvings and people who were so fascinating that they spoke a different language than me.  I had a wish to be Mexicana.  Above all I wanted to visit Mexico City.

So, when Jeffrey Miller, President of IALD texted a request from China about my interest in speaking on City Beautification in Mexico City I was thrilled!

This city of great layered history — and pre-history –was opened to me through the inimitable process of Dérive, with my constant companion and explorer, Mark Kramer.

Ciudad de México is inhabited by 8,836,045 inhabitants (2008 figure, Wikipedia) and Greater Mexico City has a population exceeding 19 million people, making it the second largest metropolitan area in the Americas and the third largest agglomeration in the world (Wikipedia).

IALD Conference on Sustainable Design at CIHAC

Convention Center

Expo CIHAC (Centro Impulsor de la Construccion y la Habitacion) was held on October 13-17th, 2009 at the Banamex Convention Center, Mexico City.  The Expo is the most important construction exhibition in Mexico. It gathers together project developers, contractors, consultants, engineers and building material suppliers.  This year CIHAC partnered with IALD (International Association of Lighting Designers) to hold a Conference on Sustainable Design.  Mexico’s IALD chapter sponsored the event.  It was a great opportunity to meet with my south-of-the-border colleagues.

The Banamex Convention Center is adjacent to the Americas Horse Racetrack.  Upon arrival we were mesmerized by the trotting horses out for practice.  I joined North American lighting design colleagues Charles Stone and  Mark Loeffler at the podium.

Charles discussion of White Light in Public Lighting was the perfect counterpoint to mine, with its focus on colored light.  Mark’s LEED and Lighting Design walked the audience through the ever more complex arena of “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” and how lighting applies. Mark also spoke on Daylighting Design.

CIHAC Speakers

My topic City Beautification, The Use of Color and Light posits that the use of colored light in the urban environment has exploded.  With the continued development of LED sources the lighting designers’ paintbox has been redefined and colored light is not only technically more possible than in the past, but the technologies are more energy-saving  and sustainable in terms of maintenance.  In this talk I address “by what measure can designers agencies and owners rate the applicability of colored light in the city environment?”  I review the artistic use of color and how to judge good design using color theory, case studies and a checklist. Here, a link to the hand out.

Walking the Streets

Walking is knowing a city…

View here a video of an animated Walk signal, and a great sense of Mexican traffic engineering humor, the Don’t Walk signal – with a person impatiently tapping his foot and consulting a wristwatch as the seconds tick by… to walk.

Envision the experience of the street through the moments that captured me and and in turn are captured by my camera.

Medians and Malls

streetscape

Paving Patterns, Shadows, Light and Textures

Paving

Street Corners

corner

Lighting Fixtures and Side Streets After-dark

mex_lighting

The Zócalo, la Plaza Suprema

Urban planners and designers are ever questing for the perfect recipe for town squares and plazas. Mexico City’s Zócalo — Plaza de la Constitución — is a prime reference – often mentioned in discussion of urban landscape design.

Zocalo_area

Streets branching off the Zocalo

At long last, I was able to visit — see, sense, feel — the genuine article — the authentic plaza, the Zócalo.  I was fascinated by the shared space of pedestrians, cars and bicycles and delivery carts.  Even on a weekday, the sidewalks and streets were packed.  “Shared streets” or “shared space” is a traffic engineering concept to remove separations between vehicles and pedestrians, and devices such as curbs, painted lines, signs and signals. The logic is that humans can be self regulated when forced to…an interesting civic pact.  It felt, here on the main square streets, that the concept of shared streets had not been enforced or planned but simply an authentic need had been fulfilled — that of a huge metropolis and its circulation evolving.

The Zócalo Edge; Metropolitan Cathedral

(Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María)

Catedral Metropolitana

Because of its rich natural, archeological and architectural sites Mexico ranks within the top countries with the most UNESCO World Heritage sites.  As we walked toward the Zócalo through the busy foot traffic, jewelry and watch stores, cafes and restaurants and sidewalk markets our eyes gravitated naturally to the Metropolitan Cathedral which defines the north edge of the plaza.  Its ornate carvings of stone and wood bursts out of the facade beckoning visitors.

The Cathedral is the largest and oldest cathedral in the Americas. It is sited upon a sacred Aztec precinct near the Templo Mayor. The cathedral was built around a church that was constructed after the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán — the Aztec’s capital city (1573 to 1813) — and finally replaced the church. The Metropolitan was inspired by Spain’s Gothic cathedrals.  Its Baroque-style facade and 64-meter high Neoclassical-style towers contain 18 bells.

The ethereal glow of the ornate interior reveals five naves, several chapels, two impressive pipe organs, religious paintings and figurines.  The decor, whispered hush and flicker of candles conspire to create a time/space wonderment.

The Zócalo Edge; Templo Mayor

templo_mayor_plaque

“Next door” to the Cathedral is the Templo Mayor (Great Temple)

The Aztec legend describes the siting of the Temple as a fulfillment of a prophecy; where an eagle was seen perched on a cactus devouring a snake.

Construction began around 1325 AD and the Temple was continually enlarged over the next two centuries. A the time of the Spanish Conquest, in 1521, the temple was the center of this Tenochtitlan, with a population of 300,000.

The temple was nearly destroyed by the Spaniards after their conquest of Tenochtitlan.

The Templo Mayor excavation began 30 years ago after electrical tradesmen discovered the ruins.

Templo Mayor Mexico City

Two life-size clay figures from this trove represent the two faces of Aztec religion. A winged warrior, his head poking out from an eagle’s beak, with talons erupting from his knees, symbolizes life or the sun at dawn. Discovered only a decade ago, a grisly, six-foot-tall, clay figure – with his liver dangling beneath exposed ribs – represents death. Both were revered. The equal value of life and death explains “why the images of death are so strong,” says Felipe Solís, curator and the foremost authority on the Aztecs. “At Mexico City’s core beats an Aztec heart”  — Carol Strickland, Christian Science Monitor

Culture

Museo Nacional de Antropología

Museo de Anthropologica

On our way to the Museo de Anthropologica we strolled through Chapultepec Park.  A large scale photo exhibition mounted on an iron fence was composed of provocative images in billboard style.   The Museum, in mid-century modern/Mexican style, is stunning – the sleek lines interrupted by pattern and relief.  The first gallery was a contemporary take by several artists, on Mexico City and its populous.  Salvage materials, video, industrial homage and individual stories tell the life of the lesser known Mexicano.

The monumental collection is humbling.  Here, another chance to experience the ancient, this time through a curated collection.

culture

Left: billboard photo exhibit, Center: View of Chapultepec, Right: the Kahlo-Rivera House-Study

Lighting designer Gustavo Aviles, and his wife Magi, took us to dinner at the Colonia San Ángel Inn. After an evening of laughter and conversation they surprised us by pointing out the Kahlo/Rivera House-Study right across the street. The intense and creative couple — Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera — painted and housed their skull collection, as well as pre-Columbian art and Mexican crafts here.

The complex, two buildings connected by a bridge, is one the most important cultural landmarks of Mexico City. It was designed by Juan O’Gorman — an architect and painter.  It is a a merging of modern Mexican architecture and the International style.

The work caused a heated controversy in the 1930s by combining organic Mexican architecture and architectural murals with functionalism. So was the breaking of all the aesthetic paradigms of architecture in Mexico until then, to incorporate such blunt theories and thoughts as most avant-garde architects (as Le Corbusier) were developing on the European continent. Thoughts such as the rational use of materials, analysis of the functioning of ideal spaces and the adequacy of them to accommodate activities that took place within them – ideas that were radical at first but eventually were assimilated into the worldwide architectural community. These houses were made possible with minimum cost and effort.

Diego Rivera Studio Museum was established by presidential decree in 1981, opening its doors in 1986. In 1994, the INBA made the restoration and rehabilitation of houses a cultural heritage site of the nation, according to the decree published in the Diario Oficial on March 25, 1998. — Wikiarquitectura.com

I heartily recommend the movie Frida Kahlo directed by Julie Taymor for the flavor, color and sounds of a time in Mexico. And here a link of the real Frida and Diego.

La Capital is an exemplar of metropolitan life, and I like to think that my explorations have just begun.

train_stylized_MTA-CA_john Mattos

Image: MTC/California High-Speed Train from 1999

From Progressive Railroading:

The Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 (STAA) proposes $99.8 billion for public transportation — a more than 90 percent increase compared with SAFETEA-LU levels. The bill also calls for investing $50 billion in high-speed rail.

The (funding) guidelines institute a July 10 pre-application deadline, which will enable the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to provide feedback on project applications, according to National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP).  Final applications for funding Tracks 1, 3 and 4 are due Aug. 24; applications for funding Track 2 are due by Oct. 2.

The FRA plans to award the first round of grants by mid-September.

American Society of Civil Engineers comments:

The blueprint … will form a solid foundation for the future of the nation’s transportation systems.

US transportation ‘blueprint’ doubles spending to $500bn (6/18)

USDOT unveils application guidelines for high-speed stimulus dollars (6/18)

House committee leaders introduce surface transportation authorization bill (6/19)

High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Interim Program Guidance – (Pre-Application updated 6/19)

DOT Information Related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery “Tiger”

Triple Bridge Gateway was honored by the Society For Environmental Graphic Design’s MERIT AWARD on May 30, 2009.

To learn more, join Leni Schwendinger, Light Projects LTD and Henry Stolzman, PKSB Architects, at the Architectural League’s lecture series New York Designs: Public on June 4th.

All Images by ArchPhototb_0202tb_0103tb_0701

goingpub_2 This sold-out conference was presented by the Greater New York Construction User Council and the Building Trades Employers’ Association at  AIA Center for Architecture (NYC), April 21,2009.

The panels were:

Rebuilding our Nation’s Infrastructure, from Housing to Highways, Green Retrofitting of Public and Private Buildings, Public-Private Partnerships for Municipal and Institutional construction, Renewable Energy for the 21st Century.

Here I comment on two of them:

Rebuilding our Nation’s Infrastructure, from Housing to Highways

Michael Della Rocca, President/Regional Managing Director, North America Halcrow Inc

After 30 years doing this work, infrastructure is finally a headline story.

Mr. Della Rocca discussed why the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds are more valuable;  usually federal funding has to be matched by the state at  80/20 or 50/50, this program is 100% on the dollar.  Projects will be bid as usual.  Agencies involved include DOT, Amtrak and Metro North.  There is a “Use it or lose it”.  The  projects have time sensitivity – have to be completed in 120 days or365 days depending on requirements.

ARRA Priorities:

  1. job creation
  2. speed – shovel ready, design is done, ready to bid
  3. green component, for example, public transit

Mr. Della Rocca’s counter intuitive statement; Why it is important that Recovery Acts projects succeed.

Every six years a new transportation bill is reauthorized.  On  September 30 2009 the new legislation will be passed regarding how transportation monies are allocated and spent.   If we are effective there will be more political will to add more transportation dollars.

He mentioned Transportation for America’s T4 Platform designed to guide the new federal surface transportation authorization legislation.  This is important! If you do not know T4 yet – see the Transportation for America website – a comprehensive review the issues, headlines and organizations who support a wide ranging platform for the renewed TEA bill, surprisingly inclusive of a sustainable transportation system (including high- speed rail and world-class public transportation), infrastructure, walking and biking and new public policy of accountability.

In 2009, Congress and the next Administration will face the expiration of the current $286 billion national transportation program. The choice is clear: Move our nation in a bold new direction, or continue on the current path of spending billions of taxpayer dollars with little accountability on a system that is both BROKE and BROKEN. (Transportation for America Website)

New York City’s transit/transportation use is skewed opposite to the rest of the country.  Federal funding used to slant toward creating urban sprawl (roadways) and now, with a focus on transit-oriented development, funds favor the NYC approach.

David Tweedy, Chief of Capital Planning, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PA)

Issues from the owner’s perspective:

  • lost revenue from bridges and tunnels
  • challenges as a Bi-State agency
  • annual plan has to balance – not enough revenues
  • commit and award $3.3 billion — a historic amount to capital projects such as airports, security, sustainability

PA is not beneficiary of first round of stimulus funds but  if  MTA gets money, the linkages to Port Authority services- such as 1 and 9 subway lines at the Hub – are enhanced.  Also, Route 9A impacts PA services.  He stated that phasing projects so that smaller firms can bid has made the Port’s MBE/WBE/DBE program very strong, robust and outreach is good.

PA is helping other agencies with weaker MBE/WBE/DBE programs.

(Light Projects had to apply first to Port Authority to enter the Unified Application for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, a must for small businesses to qualify for  federally funded projects. Refer to  my previous post – February)

The World Trade Center rebuilding is expending up $11 billion over 5 years — and there is a burden on balancing capital planning and spending… “quiet projects tend to be deferred”, he stated.

What about P3?  Mr. Tweedy had the same answer as Executive Director, Christopher Ward, as quoted in my February post about the Construction Users Council’s previous meeting; the PA is “taking  a hard look” at PPP for the Staten Island bridges linking New York with New Jersey; the Bayonne, Goethals and Outerbridge Crossing.  All need refurbishment and the Bayonne Bridge in particular will need an overhaul to accept taller ships that the new dimensions of the Panama Canal allow.

Constructing the Economic Recovery – Public-Private Partnerships for Municipal and Institutional Construction.

Kenneth D. Levien, President Levien & Company

Where did PPP come from? Mr. Levien humorously invoked the Daily News’ famous banner headline when President Ford declared his lack of support for  “a federal bail-out of New York City” in 1975.

FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD [“I can tell you now that I am prepared to veto any bill that has as its purpose a federal bailout of New York City to prevent a default,” the President said.]

Here I reproduce Mr. Leviens PowerPoint primer on public/private…

Successful public/private projects generally share three attributes:

  • partners are cooperative rather than adversarial, because their interests align
  • formal contracts set the terms under which they share risk and responsibility for mutual financial gain and social benefit.
  • custom tailored business arrangements often persist after the project is completed and operating.

Why establish public/private partnerships?

  • the actual cost of providing government services is too high
  • it creates more budget capacity for your operating budget and it spreads the risk
  • having alternative activities with partners spreads the risk
  • merging resources helps to create a higher service delivery between partners
  • creates entrepreneurial opportunities not always affordable to public agencies
  • expands and changes the staff’s mindset in creative thinking when you have to plan with your partner
  • creates a market driven approach to service delivery versus a product approach
  • service to patrons becomes the key to success in partnering.

Why partnerships fail:

  • lack of commitment from one or multiple partners
  • using partnership for personal gain
  • the objectives lacked clarity
  • greater than reasonable expectations form the partner
  • the agreement was not equitable – not considered a Win-Win
  • hidden agendas on both sides
  • did not communicate effectively and no follow through.

John T Livingston, President Tishman Construction Corp.

… don’t confuse design-ready with shovel ready. Has the project been value-engineered?  If so then it is shovel ready. And despite requirement for shovel ready projects they will still be widely advertised and subject to competition.

Mr. Livingston feels that potential PPP Projects will be infrastructure such as tunnels, bridges, and highways; buildings such as courthouses, office buildings and renovations of existing buildings;  energy sustainability projects;  and FDIC joint venture for development projects.

steelmillsatnight-circa1950It is exhilarating and astonishing indeed to be living this infrastructure headline world.   Born a steel-mill electrician’s daughter, stories of pig iron, scrap metal and smelting were narrated by both my father and mother, generally while on a journey by car.  I grew up fascinated by the working world and how it worked.

Building and crafting were noble… and no job was too hard to do or envision.

As a New Yorker,  I have not driven for over a decade, walking and public transportation are daily modes of movement.  Pounding my dear city’s pavement while envisioning a city of light is not impossible these days.

CITY TO CITIZEN: I AM YOUR HOME

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Resources

ANALYSIS-Clock ticking on US transportation bill (Reuters April 28, 2009)

Federal

www.Recovery.gov -As the centerpiece of the President’s commitment to transparency and accountability, Recovery.gov will feature information on how the Act is working, tools to help you hold the government accountable, and up-to-date data on the expenditure of funds.

www.grants.gov -Grants.gov is your source to FIND and APPLY for federal government grants.

www.FedBizOpps.gov – the federal government’s one-stop virtual marketplace

www.GovLoans.gov – your source for locating the loans you need

www.GovBenefits.gov – the official benefits website of the U.S. government, with information on over 1,000 benefit and assistance programs.

Progress Report; US DOT – this is the 100 day report card from the US Department of Transportation

EPA Implementation of ARRA – read about the Environmental Protection Agencies progress

State

www.economicrecovery.ny.gov – New York State Information Related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

www.panynj.gov – Port Authority of NY and NJ

City

www.nycetc.org – NYC Training Employment Coalition

NYC.Gov – Stimulus Tracker With the NYCStat Stimulus Tracker, New Yorkers can track the City’s use of federal stimulus/recovery funds provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).