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City Of Dreams Resort Bubble Theater Wins IES Lighting Control Innovation Special Citation Award

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. In this award’s first year, eight projects were recognized with an Award of Merit, with one further recognized with a Special Citation Award.

This month, we will explore the role that sophisticated lighting controls play at the City of Dreams Resort, Bubble Theater/ Macau SAR, creating an immersive virtual underwater experience with media and light. This project won a Special Citation Award for the use of controls in an entertainment lighting project. Photography by Jason Goldenberg. Lighting control design by Lightswitch Architectural Inc.

The design challenge was to make an asymmetric domed space, an immersive experience with media and light, pushing the possibilities of the built environment. The designers coordinated the addition of an interior skin that would be elliptical, and symmetrical, so projected images would not distort.

The dome becomes a seamless projection surface with 15, blended 30,000 lumen video projectors along with 10,000 LED’s interlaced within the perforated dome. The LEDs provide pixel mapped support of the content enhancing bubbles, sparkles, explosions and magical auras surrounding animated characters.

The elaborate control system is both DMX and video driven through a massive control network, in addition to relay control for afterhours shutdown.

Designing the lighting and lighting controls system, each of the thousands of lighting elements/luminaires are individually controlled with approximately 50,000 channels, and 80 universes.

The designers coordinated maintenance schedules and system training with operations staff, designed access to the equipment via elaborate multistory catwalks, and follow-up with annual site visits.

Designed with touch screen diagnostic checks, a clearly defined system criteria and creative intent keep the system operating per design intent.

Kinetic sea creatures fly in and out of the space, and did not allow for data to be run. So wireless access points sourced from the IT industry are used to transmit data for control.

Custom coral chandeliers house strobes and RGB LEDs, controlled via pixel mapping.

A true marvel of media and lighting design integration.

On-site to commission, coordinate, and program controls, the designers provided a systems integrator for a year, and an average of seven designers for five months.

Energy efficiency: The designers used only arc lamp metal halide and LED sources, and the system contains a total of 234 W/sq.ft. to accommodate the endless variety of environments.

Budget: The design team provided an $8 million installed lighting budget and came in 5% under budget.

Got a project? Criteria for the new award, along with submissions forms and procedures, can be viewed at

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