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.
Forget the vehicles. This will be a promenade for people. This will be a
- Howard Brandston
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."
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
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
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
evening arrived. The flow of nature was being supplemented by this electric light."
- Howard Brandston
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
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
I'd love to say the lighting did it all."
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."