Sixth Street Viaduct

    Los Angeles, California, USA

    Photo Credits: Forman & Associates (Photo 1 Courtesy Unsplash)

    Connecting communities with a ribbon of light

    Since 1932, the Sixth Street Viaduct has served as a vital connection between the Arts District on the west side of the Los Angeles River and the historic neighborhood of Boyle Heights on the east side. Deemed seismically unsound, the Bureau of Engineering, in partnership with the City's Bureau of Contract Administration, led a project to replace the original structure. At a cost of $588 million, it is the largest bridge project in Los Angeles’ history.


    The lighting design for the new bridge was intended to create a colorful ribbon of light highlighting the structure’s 10 pairs of magnificent arches and provide a distinctive canvas to celebrate a variety of events. In addition, the project required a unique solution to provide roadway lighting without conventional street lighting poles.


    Color Kinetics luminaires were selected after extensive and rigorous testing for their ability to best meet the complex needs of the project. Color Kinetics ColorReach Powercore gen2, RGBW (96 pcs) (now specified with ReachElite High Punch Powercore, RGBW) are located on the bridge deck at the base of each arch and direct light up from both ends of the arches to create a colorful and dramatic effect. ColorReach Compact Powercore, RGBW (52 pcs) (now specified with ReachElite High Output, Powercore, RGBW) illuminates the arches as they continue below the bridge deck to the ground. Depending on where the arch ends, the luminaires are either mounted on retractable arms beneath the bridge deck or in the ground, pointing up at the bridge arches.


    In a truly innovative application, Color Kinetics eW Graze QLX Powercore, 4000 K, 10 ° x 60 °, 1219 mm (4 ft) with louvers (1,095 pcs) delivers street lighting, grazing the roadway brightly from the curbs, without traditional street lighting mounted on poles. Shorter versions of the same luminaire 4000 K 30 ° x 60 °, 610 mm (2 ft) (1,012 pcs) illuminate the sidewalks. Color Kinetics Data Enabler Pro (48 pcs) supplies power and data to the system, which is controlled with Pharos LPC2.


    Completed July 2022, the new bridge, known as ‘The Ribbon of Light,’ has transformed the urban landscape and become an inspiring iconic landmark that defines Los Angeles.


    “Public projects are complex and may develop over 2 years, 5 years, or in the case of the 6th Street Viaduct—8 years to complete. Winning the competition with engineers HNTB, architects Michael Maltzan, and landscape architects Hargreaves Jones was a highlight in 2013. A prime criterion for Light Projects’ conceptual design was to embed lighting so that the fixtures would be concealed. Another was to create an evolving transformation along the archways. We tested beam spreads at the NYC Color Kinetics’ studio as well as conducted design team workshops, created persuasive animations, and presented them to the LA Bureau of Engineers. Now, in 2022, our dream is a reality. Thanks to all who kept the vision alive!” - Leni Schwendinger, Creative Director and Lighting Designer, Light Projects

    Project credits


    City of Los Angeles:

    Eric Garcetti, Mayor

    Kevin de Leon, City Council, 14th District

    Gary Lee Moore, Chief Engineer



    Michael Maltzan Architects






    Lighting Concept:

    Leni Schwendinger, Light Projects


    Construction Manager:

    Skanska-Stacy and Witbeck


    Electrical Contractor:

    V T Electric


    System Integration, Configuration, and Programming:

    Forman & Associates

    Scott Cain, programmer

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