LED Fixtures “Connect” Malls

Lighting design plays a significant role in a building that joins two malls in the King of Prussia Mall complex.

At night the Architura fixtures produce continuous ribbons of light. During the day the fixture mounting arms and extrusions provide architectural design elements for the outside of the Connector building. Photos courtesy CallisonRTKL

In August 2016, the historical King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania celebrated the grand opening of their new Connector Wing, designed by architectural planners and designers CallisonRTKL Inc., Los Angeles. The two-level, 150,000-sq.-ft. Connector building acts as a bridge to seamlessly link The Plaza and The Court malls.

When the 20-month construction project was finally completed, it created the one of largest enclosed shopping centers in the U.S.—what some of its 25-million yearly visitors/shoppers call The Eighth Wonder of the World.

The Connector building serves as a new centerpiece for the mall, connecting the entire property into a unified whole, carefully blending luxury with “advanced-lifestyle” retailing. The outstanding feature of CallisonRTKL’s design concept was the exterior of the Connector’s south facade. A two-level, diamond-shaped glass curtainwall that intersects with the aluminum composite panels creates its distinctive, welcoming appearance.

The curtainwall consists of flat and folded glass, forming a two-level-high main entryway for the enclosed mall. The equally large-scale diamond-shaped metal panels transition from flat to dimensional panels, giving the Connector’s façade a distinctive outer surface texture. A metal “knife-edged eyebrow” panel caps the facade. The panel slopes to meet metal curtainwall panels, and a notably architectural, large-scale upper-level window, with distinctive internal bracing.

Saul Acosta, associate principal at KGM Architectural Lighting, El Segundo, CA, sought to illuminate the exterior of the south façade. He wanted to use lighting that would interact with the architecture, illuminate the diamond-shaped exterior surfaces and, as a result, create a magical focal point.

Working closely with Acosta, Mark Duff, specification sales at Prudential Lighting Products, Los Angeles observed, “Orgatech Lighting’s (Orange, CA) Architura has been very popular for exterior facade lighting with designers at KGM over recent years, because of its clean, contemporary shape and the wide variety of mounting options and bracket devices available.

“Several customized mounting brackets were required to position Architura [fixtures] at the proper setback and location on the façade so that the entire exterior would have a uniform lighting effect. Orgatech’s design team was able to design and develop these custom mounting brackets before the fixtures went into production.”

Viewed from the covered walkway, the Connector building exterior is washed by the ribbons of LED fixtures.

With KGM’s design approach in mind, Acosta chose to use more than 982 linear ft. of Architura fixtures. Having used Architura LED products in the past, Acosta understood that this high-performance, energy efficient, virtually maintenance-free fixture would be well suited for illuminating the Connector’s south façade. The small-profile, contemporary linear design enables Architura to easily blend in with the architecture, with its light focused forward and upward, providing indirect, even wall-washing effects.

Another feature that worked well in this project was simplified row mounting with Orgatech’s “push fit,” tool-less interconnecting hubs. Hub brackets permit easy access for wire-through power, allowing each interconnected fixture to be independently rotated while maintaining a weatherproof seal.

At night these fixtures produce continuous ribbons of light. They seamlessly wrap around the eyebrow of the Connector’s metal-panel curtainwall. Architectura also wraps around the bottom of the curtainwall, starting at the intersection of the metal and glass panels, wall-washing the entire length of the Connector to its junction with the Neiman Marcus store.

Conversely, in daylight Architura LED mounting arms and extrusions provide architectural design elements for the outside of the Connector building. Whether on or off, this high-design LED building perimeter lighting is a focal point for mall visitors.

Push-fit tool-less interconnecting hubs permit easy access for wire-through power, allowing each interconnected fixture to be independently rotated while maintaining a weatherproof seal.

Indoor lighting

Because Architura LED has the versatility to be used indoor, KGM also used it to illuminate the interior courtyard.

In addition to using Architura LED fixtures to illuminate the interior courtyard, the Stuart Weitzman shoe store uses several products from Orgatech’s sister company, Organic Lighting, to feature their footwear.

For Stuart Weitzman, the high-end shoe store in King of Prussia Mall, lighting designer, Justin Oviedo, of Lighting Management Inc., Pomona, NY, chose Orgatech’s sister company, Organic Lighting’s liniLED PSP. Specification-grade, flexible, and dimmable light strips, liniLED PSP provides very long-lasting, brilliant, white lighting for a wide range of applications. Oviedo used liniLED PSP to illuminate a custom-made curved-wall shoe display, along with other areas of the store.

To illuminate Connector interiors, KGM established zones throughout the space. They used cove, indirect, recessed, and decorative lighting, along with illuminated 3D ceiling panels, to create an identity for each of the building’s different areas. The lighting systems seamlessly integrate with building architecture.

The use of multiple skylights maximizes daylight. These skylights could have presented a lighting problem. Instead, KGM designed a plan that took advantage of abundant natural daylight, working concurrently with sophisticated lighting controls.

Indirect illumination saturates vertical surfaces of the perimeter skylights, as well as areas above the storefronts. Together, they create a continuous band of light that surrounds the entire Connector building. Direct illumination sources throughout the Connector’s interior space enhance while creating well-balanced lighting in a layered environment.

King of Prussia Mall

The King of Prussia Mall, 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia, was originally developed by the property-management firm Kravco Co., King of Prussia, PA. Known then as The Plaza at King of Prussia, it debuted in 1963 as an open-air shopping mall, anchored by two department stores and a supermarket. In the 1970s, The Plaza comprised a fully-enclosed section connecting three anchor department stores and a now sprawling outdoor section.

Kravco soon recognized the need for a second fully enclosed, more upscale mall. It built The Court at King of Prussia, with anchor stores Abraham & Straus, Bloomingdale’s, and Macy’s. The Court was separated from The Plaza by a parking lot.

In the ‘90s, demand for luxury goods continued to grow, as did retailers. High-end department stores, such as Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom, were looking for new locations in the growing Philadelphia area and King of Prussia Mall management didn’t want them to end up somewhere else.

The company had a predicament, however. The Court was located on a small piece of land with no room for expansion and The Plaza wasn’t “right” for three or more considerable new upscale stores. In an ambitious campaign, Kravco decided to rebuild The Plaza with two fully enclosed levels throughout, making it as attractive to upscale retailers as The Court. Kravco then began marketing the two malls as a single entity. A distinctive pedestrian bridge with integral walkway, constructed around this time, connected the malls.

As many older malls across the country struggled to stay afloat, King of Prussia Mall continued to prosper. In November 2014, Simon Property Group, which became majority owner in 2011, announced plans to enlarge the mall by connecting The Plaza and The Court.

With the August 2016 grand opening of the Connector Wing, Simon Property Group became the majority owner of the new 2.85 million-sq.-ft. shopping mecca, one of the largest enclosed shopping centers in the country.


— Tour the King of Prussia Mall.

— Download the Architura-S Outdoor Linear LED spec sheet.

— Download the LiniLed PSP spec sheet.

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