StudioK1 Creates a River of Light in Anaheim

The title itself says it all: The Anaheim Convention Center Grand Plaza.

The Grand Plaza represents an enormous transformation of the guest experience at the Anaheim Convention Center and its surrounding hotels. A former throughway for taxis and buses, the roadway has been converted into a large pedestrian mall of over 1,400 feet in length and 120 feet in width. After several workshops with stakeholders including the Convention Center, the City of Anaheim, the Anaheim Hilton and the Anaheim Marriott, lighting design consultancy StudioK1, working with the landscape architecture firm RJM, developed a theme for unifying the plaza: The River of Light.

Grounded by large fountains on either end of the plaza, the “river” was originally intended to be a water feature extending the 600+ feet between the fountains, representing the Santa Ana River - around which Anaheim was founded - flowing from the mountains to the sea. After the design team determined the impracticality of such a large water feature, Studio Director Peter Maradudin proposed creating a kinetic light artwork that could simulate the flow of water and the sparkle of sunlight playing off its surface. Working with Targetti/Poulsen to develop modified versions of their Icare and Phenix RGB/ DMX controllable ingrade luminaires, and with Electronic Theatre Controls to assemble the over 1,500 channels of control, Maradudin and lighting designer Kaitlin LeSage Crawford created a landscape of light that “flows” organically from one fountain to the other, using almost 300 individually controlled luminaires to span the gap.

The two large fountains - The Mountain Fountain and The Ocean Fountain - are also controlled by the vast lighting system, including not only the RGB luminaires within, but the pumps and the jets. A 60-foot tall entry monument at the eastern end of the Plaza is also capable of shifting color.

The entire lighting design is LED, from the ingrade and fountain luminaires to the pedestrian poles, to the linear lighting integrated under the benches that flank the plaza, to the landscape luminaires, to the floodlights that provide the ambient lighting. The entire installation, covering over 150,000 square feet, is lit with less than 16,000 watts of light, or just over 0.1 watts per square foot.

“We were committed to designing for the Convention Center an epic-scale lighting sculpture that would provide them with years of entertainment, flexibility, ease of maintenance and energy conservation. That they shared our commitment speaks volumes as to their vision of the future,” says Maradudin. The River of Light and the fountains go through multiple shows each evening, on the hour and the half hour, with a sparkling, more “quiescent,” flowing river state in between. The shows can be seen nightly on the Convention Center webcam: