Highway entrances transformed with light
As the main artery of Arlington, Virginia, US, Arlington Boulevard sees much of the city's activity. Two entrances to the highway, North Courthouse Road and 10th Street, were easy to miss due to busy traffic and poorly marked intersections. Artist and Interdisciplinary Designer Vicki Scuri found a way to enhance these highway entrances, making them new landmarks for the city of Arlington.
To transform the roads from confusing traffic patterns to attractive city entrances, Scuri decided to use LED lighting to highlight the overpasses of the city's main boulevard. She emphasized the bridges with vibrant lighting, giving the road entrances a colorful presence. While it was important to highlight these streets, it was also important to use sustainable lighting that required minimal maintenance and had a long life cycle, so Scuri chose Color Kinetics fixtures to illuminate the overpasses.
The project was commissioned by Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Transportation, who helped Scuri fulfill her vision. Redbud trees, native plants, and the sky inspired the design. The inspiration was woven into both areas' designs literally and abstractly. The images of these plants, which are molded onto the concrete walls, add texture and form to the site. Also, the landscaping creates a park-like atmosphere and encourages the use of pedestrian and bike trails that are continuous on both the north and south sides of Arlington Boulevard.
The bridge spans are enhanced with laser-cut leaf patterned weathering steel grills. These grills are backlit with programmable colored light that is reminiscent of sky tones. ColorGraze MX4 Powercore fixtures were mounted to the bottom beams of the overpasses, which serve as shelves for the lighting. The fixtures are mounted end-to-end to provide a consistent glow of light across the bridge. The light, emanating from behind the cut steel leaf patterned grills, transitions hues in a 15-minute loop to provide interest, movement, and memorable landmarks at the entries to Arlington.
The addition of the grills with programmable LED lighting transforms the spans, adding to the project's attraction. The play of light and shadow on the walls during the day and the soothing, melting of light across the spans during the evening adds an aesthetic quality that cannot be achieved without light. The new landmark creates a sense of place, beauty, and ease of mobility along Arlington Boulevard for all modes of transportation. The project was honored at the 2014-2015 American Council of Engineering Companies of Metropolitan Washington Engineering Excellence Awards.
"The bridge fascia art panels and accent lighting provide a final transformation that is beyond what I imagined, and has drawn a lot of positive attention to the project," said James Kawchak, from AECOM, an engineering and architecture firm.