Originally built to relieve notorious Los Angeles traffic congestion, the renowned 2nd Street Tunnel is one of the most filmed and recognizable locations in the city. It frequently appears in blockbuster films, TV shows, music videos, and commercials, as well as being a space for posh entertainment industry events.
The City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting wanted to create space at the tunnel’s entrance that would provide more flexible lighting options for film production and engage Los Angeles residents. They teamed up with Color Kinetics partner, Forman & Associates, to realize the project.
The idea was to simultaneously recreate historical lighting and provide dramatic color lighting inside the west end entrance of the tunnel. The white, ‘stepped’ columns located in that section of the tunnel serve as a perfect canvas on which to display colorful light.
Given the city’s prior success using Color Kinetics LED lighting for other projects and its color-changing capabilities, Color Kinetics ColorBlast IntelliHue Powercore gen4 and Color Kinetics Vaya Tube, RGB luminaires were selected for the project. ColorBlasts mounted on the ceiling in sets of four for each ‘step’ of the architecture illuminate the white columns, while two Vaya Tube 1.2 m (4 ft) fixtures mounted adjacent to each set of ColorBlasts provide accent lighting on the ceiling.
"The ColorBlast fixture is very unique in terms of light mixing technology, and the optics in the fixture allows us to punch light down the columns. And the second fixture used on this project is the Vaya Tube, RGB which - I have to be honest - I didn’t know how much impact that was going to have on the overall look of the project. But when we turned those on, it was quite an eye opener. With the Vaya Tube, you can do 1 ft increments and get an amazing color-chase effect." - Brian Ellsworth, Forman & Associates
Using a Pharos controller and powered by Color Kinetics Data Enabler Pro and Color Kinetics Vaya Power Supply, the dynamic, color-changing system provides the ultimate display flexibility for filming with uniform, high-quality, intelligent white, pastel, and saturated color light. These dynamic full-color light displays will also be used to represent Los Angeles sports teams and to mark a variety of holidays, events, and special occasions.
In addition to new color-changing lighting, a custom Signify roadway lighting system was installed to replace the tunnel’s street fixtures. Signify TunnelView by Lumec was chosen for its outstanding tunnel coverage in the open, Figueroa side of the tunnel and is used for day-to-day traffic flow when the tunnel’s dramatic Color Kinetics lighting is not in use. Signify Renaissance by Lumec (RN20) was also installed to provide a quintessential ‘old time’ Los Angeles look.
"It comes down to the quality of the product. The quality of the Color Kinetics and Lumec products shows through in the amount of fixtures we used, what we had to cover, and the fact that we couldn’t add any fixtures, because we couldn’t drill into the 100 year old concrete. We picked very efficient fixtures with good spread that met all of our IES recommendations for tunnel lighting." - Barry LeFave, Forman & Associates
Completed in March 2021, the tunnel is now outfitted with durable, reliable, and spectacular lighting available to the production community for a wide range of stunning effects. They have expressed their excitement to begin using the new lighting system when filming in the 2nd Street Tunnel, which is expected to increase revenue for the city in the form of filming permits.
Reaction from the City of Los Angeles and the public has also been overwhelmingly positive. During installation, residents thanked Forman & Associates team members on site for making the tunnel feel safe again.
Added LeFave, "The partnership that Signify has with all of its brands in the city is longstanding, and we look to continue and build upon it with projects like this, the 2nd Street Tunnel, the 6th Street Viaduct, and other projects throughout the city."