Built in 1934, the O. K. Allen or Long-Allen Bridge - commonly referred to as the Texas Street Bridge - spans the Red River, connecting Shreveport and Bossier City. The bridge was originally lit in 1993 with neon lighting designed by Rockne Krebs and regarded as a work of art. Over time the neon fixtures failed, and the city was unable to maintain the 914 m (3,000 ft) long art installation.
When the lights went out on the bridge, some lamented that the lights – the vibrancy - went out of the cities. The Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC) was approached to rejuvenate the region, by replacing the neon lighting with low-maintenance, programmable, and dynamic LEDs.
SRAC recruited a team of local artists, designers, and IT professionals to create the new lighting solution that was intended to highlight the architectural elements of the bridge, while paying tribute to the bridge’s original light art installation. They used this project as an opportunity to train young local artists and prepare them for professional art careers by establishing an educational residency in which area students are essentially handed keys to the bridge. Led by Jason Lyons, SRAC’s Resident Lighting Designer and a renowned Broadway Lighting Designer, the program enables 5th grade through college students to become certified as lighting designers for the bridge by allowing them to create and program light shows - everything from holiday-themed shows to gender reveals. Launching with four professional artists and 300 students, the residency features economically challenged and underserved students, as well as highly functioning students with autism. Thirty-five students have completed the nine-month course and have gained new confidence from their participation in the program.
Color Kinetics solutions were selected due to its proven reputation for delivering the best quality of light, exceptional service, deep expertise, and potential for a long-term relationship that can expand to other projects.
Completed in February 2022, Color Kinetics Blast Powercore, IntelliHue luminaires, mounted within a foot of the structure’s surface, illuminate the bridge’s steel beams and flood the trusses. Interact Landmark with Pharos LPC X control the interactive system, with its constantly morphing colors, shapes, and forms. Color Kinetics Data Enabler Pro supplies power and data.
“Signify and Color Kinetics offered the best products for the project, providing the flexibility to challenge our talented lighting designers to produce a diversity of light shows and excite our community.”- Pam Atchison, Executive Director, SRAC
An innovative ‘Adopt a Light for a Year’ program enables people to purchase an opportunity to pick the colors of lights on the South Side of the bridge facing I-20 for special celebrations, announcements, causes, and other occasions. For the Art Break festival, SRAC invited the public to use coloring sheets to color the bridge the way they’d like to see it lit during the event. SRAC received hundreds of coloring sheets that were scanned into the system to be played during a special 20-minute light show. Additional interactive capabilities for the system are being explored, including light shows that are automatically driven by weather and sports team scores, as well as the ability for visitors to use an app on their personal mobile devices to select colors and light shows that will display in real time on the bridge - then they can share photos of their creations on social media.
Thanks in large part to a $1M donation from Dr. and Mrs. George Bakowski, the new lighting on the bridge – now nicknamed the Bakowski Bridge of Lights – has inspired other local urban design projects, where artists and technology experts work together to harness the extraordinary power of light. The unique interactive public art installation has transformed the bridge into a stunning canvas of light that illuminates the river, drives economic development, and breathes new life into the connecting cities.
“We haven’t just lighted a bridge, we’ve lighted lives.” - Jason Lyons, Resident Lighting Designer, SRAC