Despite sporadic repairs over the last 100 years, the iconic 19-foot-tall, 152-foot-wide Ghirardelli Square sign was in desperate need of renovation. Erected in 1915, the sign’s letters were corroded, missing light bulbs, and held lights that no longer worked.
Although the letters had been illuminated with LED bulbs, the customer requested a new lighting design as part of the restoration that would feature a color-changing LED lighting system that, at the same time, preserves the historical accuracy of the sign. Color Kinetics was selected for its color changing capability, long life of the fixtures, serviceability, energy savings, and the client’s previous experience using Color Kinetics.
In partnership with the architect, Historic Preservation Commission and the San Francisco Planning Department, the sign was transported letter by letter to a workshop where it was replicated - one letter at a time. Laser scanners were used to obtain accurate measurements and the letters were then reconstructed in precise detail from aluminum. The letters were repainted with a more durable paint to match the original color and new fixtures were installed in the same quantity and location on the letters as the original sign.
Color Kinetics iColor Flex LMX gen2 (now specified with Flex Compact gen 3, RGB) luminaires were installed in the new sign, 6-8 in apart, depending upon the letter. The fixtures illuminate each letter shape. The dynamic, color-changing lighting system is controlled by Color Kinetics Light System Manager gen6 and powered by Color Kinetics CM-150 CA.
The customer and community were very pleased with the result. The sign now stands proudly in its home overlooking the former Ghirardelli chocolate factory near Fisherman’s Wharf. as a symbol of hope and resiliency.