The Lighting Control Innovation Award was created in 2011 as part of the Illuminating Engineering Society’s Illumination Awards program, which recognizes professionalism, ingenuity and originality in lighting design. LCA is proud to sponsor the Lighting Control Innovation Award, which recognizes projects that exemplify the effective use of lighting controls in nonresidential applications.
This month, we will explore an innovative installation of a pedestrian bridge in the Village of Shorewood, WI, to simulate a “ghost train.” Design by Creative Lighting Design & Engineering, LLC. Photography by Marty Peck and Jim Moy Photography. Lighting controls by Pharos.
The designers were asked to design the illumination for a 200-ft. pedestrian bridge; gateway to a 2-mile-square suburban village. But without any funds, the designers recognized that an extraordinary concept was needed to inspire funding.
Through research, they discovered the original bridge once carried a historic high-speed train. They formed an idea to combine art, history and technology and create the allusion, or ghost, of this passing train.
Continuous linear rows of (42) 48″, 9°x9°, RGB graze fixtures per side follow the lower bridge chord to wash the vertical surface, using custom brackets and glare shields for maximum coverage and minimal trespass. Programming the 12″ fixture increments in sequence creates the effect of passing railcars. Even applying 500lm/ft, the black 2″ mesh and bridge structure would not reflect much light, and an innovative clear reflective coating was devised that amplified luminance.
Three rows of 1W programmable RGB nodes were arranged along the top chord, 3200 total. Their programming was synchronized to suggest the train’s approach, headlight, passing windows, taillight and trailing dust. Choreographed sound effects from eight speakers with four 8kw amplifiers complete the allusion, running at historic speeds and schedules once each direction every night.
Coordination was required with state, county, city and village municipalities, plus interfacing with three adjacent stoplights to protect traffic from distraction. Less energy Is used than the original eight 400W MH floods.
For programming the complex train effect alone, over 300 control timeline variables were adjusted. During the remainder of the evening the bridge is illuminated with 30 animated routines of 3-4 minutes each in random sequence for an artful colorplay of light, accomplishing the village’s original goal.
The Ghost Train concept drew funding to activate this community’s gateway, while providing the sights and sounds of a historic remembrance that draws crowds each night.
The nine 80-ft. long passenger cars plus locomotive travel northbound at 50MPH and later southbound at 35MPH, suggesting departure and approach from the nearby station:
The designer created this illustration/ video of the new bridge with the old train, helping raise the $300,000 installed budget in 90 days.
A 4-ft. control rack is hidden under each end of the bridge, housing controls, power supplies, and amplifier racks on a single network backbone.
Programmable floods and spots accent the bridge abutments, with beacons atop the towers that suggest flashing crossing signals during the Ghost Train.
Research and mockups verified an innovative clear coating with microscopic refraction beads that provided reflectance without affecting daytime aesthetics.
Both sides of the bridge are illuminated, with the lighting effects mirrored to simplify programming.
Each of the 30 other distinctive routines involves choreographed patterns, movements and palettes for animated looks such as this one called Castle.
Other routines have names like Architecture, Morph, Circus, Time Warp, Spooky, Majestic, Stretch, Kaleidoscope, Glint, Frame, Northern Lights, Fire, and Entry Quoins.
A tight 3-week install and programming schedule was met for a Halloween night first run that was cheered by thousands, affirming a successful placemaking attraction.
Here’s a video showing the complete effect. The train crosses starting at 0.53.