Colorful, programmable LEDs brighten downtown.
In Fort Wayne, IN, an unexpected building has colorfully changed the city’s skyline for the better: a parking garage. While most parking garages only serve a functional need, the new Skyline Garage also provides an aesthetic appeal that brightens the city’s downtown landscape with a programmable and color-filled LED lighting scheme.
Situated in the center of Indiana’s second largest city, the $39-million, 1,100-space parking facility is attached to the 100,000-sq.-ft. world headquarters of Ash Brokerage Corp. The six-story garage—five stories above ground, one below—is the city’s largest development project of its kind in the past 30 years. The city has considered the iconic structure to be an essential downtown growth component and a catalyst for continued urban revitalization.
Besides serving Ash Brokerage, the garage accommodates several retail shops, a regional bank, and restaurants. Centrally located, the Skyline Garage is within one block of the city center. It’s situated along the highly active Harrison Street Corridor, which connects the Fort Wayne Riverfront to Parkview Field, home of the Fort Wayne TinCaps minor league baseball team.
Designed by Hoch Associates and Primary Engineering Inc., both based in Fort Wayne, the multifunctional garage also includes a bike hub operated by the YMCA, in cooperation with Fort Wayne Outfitters. The hub accommodates parking for 100 bicycles used by bike commuters and residents living in the Skyline Tower. The hub connects to the Skyline YMCA facility, which bike commuters can access for lockers and shower facilities. The garage offers another unique amenity for residents and visitors who use the facility and attached spaces—a one-acre rooftop garden.
Lighting Makes Its Mark
Because this new structure plays such a notable role in the city’s skyline and redevelopment efforts, the design and construction team knew it needed a lighting system that would illuminate the garage in a way that played off its assets and contributed to overall downtown aesthetics, while maintaining quality lighting for those who use it. This lighting had to work in the daytime and at night.
“As we planned the structure, we recognized we had the unique opportunity to design a programmable light scheme in Fort Wayne following in the footsteps of the award-winning Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Memorial Bridge on Clinton Street,” said architect James Hoch, principal at Hoch Associates. “We believed the garage, wrapped in perforated panel with a programmable lighting package, would offer more than 1,000 designs to create a colorful backdrop to the city.”
According to Rich Hall, principal at CM Buck & Associates, Indianapolis, the perforated-metal panels bend to create a beautiful aesthetic appeal and a unique lighting situation.
“While the panels’ shape provides a dramatic appearance during daylight, it did give us a few lighting challenges at night. We had to make sure the design met the architectural renderings and specifications to produce enough light through the perforated holes to ensure the beams offered the appropriate lumen and color levels,” said Hall.
The team also faced the challenge of finding a lighting system that could be mounted inside a narrow 18-in. cavity in the garage and still meet the specified light levels. Plus, the fixtures and power supplies had to be hidden to prevent vandalism.
“We needed to find the right product that would produce nearly 45 feet of color,” Hoch explained. “We also needed to install the four-color LED fixtures vertically and program them along the stainless-steel perforated panel. We then had to match existing programming capabilities of the city’s various other lighting projects, including the MLK Bridge, Wells Street Bridge, and various underpasses.”
To find the lighting system, local company Schmidt Electric investigated several lighting systems. The team reviewed a lighting system that could provide precise colors and color-changing capabilities to provide intricate lighting schemes for holidays and special occasions such as Christmas, Fourth of July, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
After a thorough investigation, the team specified Dyna Graze HO DMX fixtures from Los Angeles-based Acclaim Lighting. The product is a high-power, color-changing, outdoor linear fixture developed for dynamic architectural building lighting.
The fixture features class-leading light output, adjustable feet, a glare shield, and DMX and RDM control compatibility. The unit includes 30-deg. and 90-deg. swivel-mount options, with standard beam-angle options of 10 x 60 deg., 30 x 60 deg., or 60 x 60 deg. to fit a wide range of applications.
The fixture’s 1- and 4-ft. sections fit in the tight Skyline Garage cavities. It also gave specifiers the choice of multiple configurations, including RGB, RGBW, RGBA, and Dynamic Whit,e ranging from 2400 to 5500 K. The fixture provides 650 lumens/ft. and maintains 70% of its lumens at 150,000 hr. The IP66-rated aluminum housing, polycarbonate lens, and IP-68 watertight cabling system made the DynaGraze Exterior HO DMX a solution for the linked-fixture-run installations on the project. Acclaim Lighting covers all DynaGraze fixtures with a five-year warranty.
“It was important for the facility’s design to make a positive impression on the community at large. Flexibility was paramount. The Acclaim Lighting LED package achieved these goals,” Hoch said. “The programmable, multi-faceted LED fixtures give the city and the tenants the opportunity to theme the building for a variety of events and functions. This package allowed us to exceed expectations in the design and continue the theme of providing color to a typically drab downtown structure.”
“Each evening, you will see people standing at the garage’s base, taking family photos and selfies to share with friends and family” he said. “For most, what would be an ordinary, functional building that offers a few events has become an experience for the entire city to come and enjoy.” CA