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New York City Lights Design Competition, New York City, USA

Issue 46 Dec / Jan 2008/9 : Architectural : Exterior

Lighting Design: OVI / Lighting Science Group

The award winning led streetlight from OVI and Lighting Science Group is chosen for prototyping in New York City.

The Office for Visual Interaction, Inc. (OVI), a global architectural lighting design firm and Lighting Science Group Corporation (LSG), a developer and integrator of intelligent LED lighting solutions, have been selected by The New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) to engineer, produce and test the winning design of the City Lights Design Competition. The DDC created this two-stage, international competition to select a new streetlight design for New York City for the 21st century and OVI was selected for its LED-based streetlight design. OVI has partnered with LSG to engineer, produce and test prototypes of its winning design of the LED-based streetlights.

In 2004, New York City’s Department of Design and Construction, in partnership with the Department of Transportation, launched the City Lights Streetlight project. The international design competition to create a new standard streetlight for the City of New York drew over 200 entries from 23 countries, with multi-disciplinary teams including architects, engineers, urban planners, lighting designers, industrial designers and manufacturers.

The new streetlight will provide a model for widespread lighting of streets, sidewalks and parks within the City’s five boroughs. New York City intends to add the LED-based streetlight along with a high-pressure sodium version to the Department of Transportation’s Street Lighting Catalogue, continuing a two-century long tradition of innovative street lighting.

The streetlight has already received an Arts Commission Award for Excellence in Design in 2004 and a Project Merit Award from the AIA, New York Chapter, in 2007.

Designing with the Light Source of the Future
The new design will be the first addition to the New York City street lighting catalogue since the now ubiquitous 250W high-pressure sodium Cobra Head was introduced almost 50 years ago. In creating a streetlight that will become a new classic, OVI asked themselves, “What is the light source of the future?” Hi-flux LEDs emerged as an outstanding solution. With their small size, low wattage, intensity, and extremely long life of over 50,000 hours, LEDs are pre-eminent as an energy efficient, minimal-maintenance source.

Standard in traffic lights and signage boards in 2007, high-performance LEDs have already appeared in luxury automobiles as daytime running lights, an indication that they have the brightness and stability to be used in streetlights. The streetlight is a vertical application with similar challenges to the horizontal illumination provided by headlights. Like the car headlight, the streetlight requires a long ‘throw’ of light and a minimising of glare.

After choosing high-flux, low-maintenance LEDs for the streetlight, OVI investigated a variety of configurations for the lights. Options including splaying LEDs outward, clustering the lamps, or arranging them in staggered lines to achieve the necessary light coverage. In the multi-lens model chosen, the LEDs themselves remain in a single, straight line, and the lens covering them is custom-moulded to aim and focus the light as required. This configuration simplifies installation of the lights by eliminating the possibility of aiming errors, and provides the opportunity for an ultra-thin luminaire design.

The decision to use LEDs integrally shaped the form and aesthetics of the overall design. In contrast to the bulky luminaire heads associated with high-pressure sodium lamps, the LED streetlight takes on a slim, elongated profile enabled by the tiny size of its light sources, which do not require a hefty decorative enclosure. Instead, the thin arc of the luminaire itself provides the necessary surface area for housing and cooling the LEDs. The revolutionary design of the streetlight is specifically derived from the requirements and possibilities of LED technology.

At the time of the competition, hi-flux LEDs were a completely new technology. Extensive calculations and laboratory measurements were undertaken to demonstrate the new streetlight’s ability to provide the light levels and distribution required by the city. OVI’s calculations showed the LED streetlight’s technical potential not only to match, but to outperform its predecessor. The LED streetlight provides a much more even and controlled distribution of light, free of lighting ‘hot-spots’ and neatly directed along the length of the street.

Modularity and Technological Advance
The streetlight uses LED modules, each installed behind primary and secondary optical systems. These work in tandem to focus and direct the light, achieving the required distribution pattern and illumination levels to meet city requirements.

This design strategy allows the same LED segments to be used in a variety of streetlight configurations. The interchangeability of LED components within each fixture facilitates fabrication, installation and maintenance.

The use of a modular system also builds future flexibility into the system. LED technology continues to improve at a rapid rate, and the streetlight is inherently designed to accommodate this change. The streetlight has the ability to advance with time, becoming less costly and more energy-efficient as technology evolves.

Rethinking the Streetlight: From the Ground Up
Allowing a one-to-one replacement with existing equipment, the streetlight is anchored to foundation bolts already cast in city sidewalks, and uses the central conduit connection from the former installation.
Specific attention was given to the method of fixing signage, call boxes, and other components to the support pole. The pole features a fluted profile, created to work in conjunction with a new mounting system for signage.

Components can be slid or snapped into place at any location along the length of the pole, at any orientation. This provides a clean visual appearance, in contrast to the metal bands currently used to strap signage onto poles.

The fluted design reduces opportunities for vandalism by minimising flat surface areas.


New York City Lights Design Competition New York City Lights Design Competition
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