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Volume 1, Issue 1
Welcome to
Denver's Living Room
The mile-long 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver has been a vibrant gathering place for locals and tourists since 1982. But after 30-plus years, the Mall's furnishings, infrastructure, and lighting needed repair and refreshing.
16th Street Mall Light
Forget the vehicles. This will be a promenade for people. This will be a people place."
- Howard Brandston
Denver, Colorado
Photo: The mile-long 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver is a vibrant gathering place for locals and tourists.
"New lighting had to respect the spirit of Howard Brandston's lights, which were a signature element of the 16th Street Mall, and at the same time upgrade to 21st century materials that would improve color rendering and eliminate shadows along the Mall," explains Downtown Denver Partnership (DPP) Executive Vice President John Desmond. "We wanted the lights to make people feel better when walking down the street at night."
Desmond and team selected Nancy Clanton, president of Clanton & Associates, to come up with a new lighting approach. "Howard Brandston's original design was beautiful," says Clanton. "The lights had a sparkle and twinkle to them. They had uplighting elements that lit the facades. This made the Mall feel like an interior space, like a living room. Howard's lights were exactly right. They were perfect until the incandescent lights started burning out and became a maintenance issue."
16th Street Mall Lighting
Photo: The reengineered lights comfortably and gracefully illuminate the pedestrian walkway.
The city replaced the burned-out incandescent lights with high-pressure sodium lights in the late 1990s. "It changed the whole experience of the Mall," says Clanton. "The globes were dark. The sparkle was gone. The facade lighting was gone. Puddles of light appeared as a result of the high-sodium lights. They couldn't be dimmed. The light was overpowering and had poor color rendering. Nobody liked the way they looked."
Clanton turned to Landscape Forms for their design and engineering expertise. "We dug into solving the problem together. It was an iterative and collaborative process," says Clanton. They discovered that the existing fixtures could not be retrofit for a number of reasons, but the original lights could be replicated. The team set out to design new optics that would bring life back to Brandston's original vision.
Landscape Forms engineers designed new LED optics, solved issues with dark spots, and brought back Howard's twinkle lights. The clients were thrilled with Clanton and Landscape Forms' LED replica design.
16th Street Mall Lighting
The lighting ornament was to celebrate the arrival of daylight and the coming of night. Twinkle lights came on before the sun came up, then welcomed the sun, and came back again when evening arrived. The flow of nature was being supplemented by this electric light."
- Howard Brandston
16th Street Mall Lighting
Photo: The lighting along the 16th Street Mall provides an experience that is comfortable and intimate.
"The new luminaire echoes the original intent but is done with 21st century parts," says Desmond. "The metallic leg has a pleasing color. THe slenderness of the fixture and components is elegant. We've often heard that the fixtures look so much better during the day. We were concerned about night lighting, but to get that extra aesthetic quality during the day. We were concerned about night lighting, but to get that extra aesthetic quality during the day was a huge bonus."
"I walked the Mall one evening last fall with colleagues," says Clanton. "I was blown away by its beauty. The Mall was lively, people of all ages were walking about, and the restaurants were full. I'd love to say the lighting did it all."
16th Street Mall Lighting
Two different downlights and twinkle lights create different lighting but also blend together to create a comfortable overall light, something like you'd have in your living room. These lights create a sense of place."
-John Desmond