Light from the Start

LEDs brighten the Wilshire Grand Center’s mod façade.
The Wilshire Grand’s LED façade is fully integrated, which reduced installation costs.

Piercing the Los Angeles skyline is a new skyscraper, a sleek edifice that tops out at over 1,100 ft.: the Wilshire Grand Center. This winner of industry prizes for integrated solid state lighting design from LEDs Magazine (a 2018 Sapphire Award for SSL Outdoor Lighting Project) and a 2017 LIT Design Award (LED Exterior System category), is distinct both for its aesthetics and implementation.

Along the building’s side is an offset spine, where double-linear lighting fixtures accent each of the building’s 73 floors. At the tower’s peak is a tapered “sail” with two oval-shaped signs (2,300 sq. ft. each) positioned behind glass. These 42-ft.-tall signs can show video, accent lighting or brand signage. “The architect wanted all lighting and display elements to be behind glass, which gives it a more polished and finished look. Also, by integrating the lighting into the panels prior to installation, we minimized installation at great heights while putting more of our budget into the technology itself,” said Josh Van Blankenship, vice president of media platforms for StandardVision (SV; Los Angeles), the lighting and display provider as well as the integrator on the project. SV worked closely with Benson Industries, the façade consultant, and Turner Construction, the façade installer and general contractor, to pre-install over 13,000 linear feet of LEDs into façade panels. And because the lighting travels over ½-in. expansion joints in the façade and required 220 module lengths, SV customized its Replicant product so that the linear light would appear uninterrupted. A new layout of LEDs on the printed circuit boards along with new endcaps enabled a cost-effective design.

The wiring for the lighting penetrates the structure’s interior at just one point on each floor, where LED drivers and other electronics are accessible through a kickplate. Each panel was installed and tested before bringing in the next façade panel. Many hours of coordination between the SV and Benson teams along with the electrical contractor Rosendin (San Jose, CA) ensured a robust installation. 

Though some may view the Wilshire Grand’s lighting as somewhat flashy, it was designed to exist in harmony with its residential neighbors. The lighting adds only 0.2 fc of light and dynamic lighting is limited to special occasions such as New Year’s Eve. “We are at a very exciting time with LED façades and digital media. Being able to leverage commoditization with customization allows us to balance the complex relationships between a project’s constraints, the design intent and its place in the community,” Van Blankenship said. “And with lighting’s outsized ability to impact both architecture and neighborhoods, it’s really crucial to ground these systems with as much civility and elegance as humanly possible.”


Signs of the Times June 2020

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