It All Comes Together
Seated at the heart of a 10-acre waterfront park in revitalized downtown Vancouver, Washington, sits the Grant Street Pier. This nautical, but elegant, pedestrian pier cantilevers 90 feet over the Columbia River, with a sculptural mast at its center. With luminaires integrated into the underside, the pier appears as if it is floating. In fact, most of the lights are low-level as to not distract from the beautiful vista looking south over the river towards Oregon. The precise optics illuminating the mast from the landside only contribute further to the dramatic visitor experience.
When designing this intimate public gathering space, the lighting team at Fisher Marantz Stone held visitor experience and views with the utmost importance. They wanted to create a breathtaking environment that would keep Vancouver residents – and visitors - coming back week after week. Whether it was to watch the sun rise over the Columbia River or to take a nighttime stroll on the pier, visitors were to frequent the park at all hours of the day. “We had to make sure it offered a safe and pleasant nighttime experience,” said Kevin Frary, one of the team’s lighting designers.
The designer team capitalized on the scenic view of the river, complementing it rather than attempting to make the pier and its mast the focal points. “There is a balance between the brightness of the fixtures and the surfaces where lighting does not interfere with your view of the river—it is a spectacular thing in and of itself,” said Charles Stone, President of Fisher Marantz Stone and one of the contributing lighting designers on the project. In order to accomplish this, the team paid special attention to its fixture selections and mounting locations to minimize spill light. This was necessary not only to maintain the views, but also to preserve the Columbia River’s salmon and avifauna populations.
“We had to do some pretty careful calculations and simulations to make sure that the lights under the pier are not shining any light onto the water,” said Frary, “it could distract the salmon or other fish that are migrating, looking to spawn, whatever it is.”
Additionally, the team had to consider how the floodlights uplighting the mast may interfere with the migration of birds. In order to reduce the pier’s light pollution, they collaborated with the project’s engineers to devise a tight controls system, as well as a schedule of operations; this also helped minimize energy use.
Furthermore, the team was careful in their selection of luminaires. “The luminaires that we’re using and the optics that they have are very precise,” said Frary, “it’s all very controlled to light only the pier and the mast, so that there’s not much spill light.”
By matching the color temperature of the pier to that of the adjacent buildings and park—3000K—and differentiating the mast at 4000K, the team was able to create an artistic and dramatic work of art out of this industrial structure. “The slight difference in color temperature highlights the crisp white finish of the mast, creating a vertical landmark within the overall landscape of the park,” said Frary.
Frary and Stone also spoke to the publicprivate partnership aspect of the project. What usually poses a challenge to lighting designers, actually worked in the team’s favor. “Our primary client was a private corporation, but this public park extends and connects to more public parkway and jogging paths,” said Stone, “so, there are many pieces that come together, and this particular project becomes a bit of a focal point.”
Frary expanded on this saying, “The park was designed before the pier was, and the plaza behind the pier was designed after. There’s this interesting sequence of smaller projects within an overall larger park, but when you Compliments of Fisher Marantz Stone see it from above, it really does feel like a seamless design.”
The luminaries lighting the rich wood of the boardwalk and the captivating artistry of the mast invite pedestrians to gather and experience the newly revitalized downtown Vancouver; the lighting designers had to accomplish this while accounting for the wishes of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Audubon Society, artist, landscape architect, and engineers working on the project; and what’s more is that the team created a space to which other lighting designers can look to for inspiration and instruction.
The carefully considered optics of this simple, but luminous, environment did not go unnoticed by the National Lighting Bureau (NLB), which presented the Fisher Marantz Stone team with a Tesla Award. This was one of five awards received by Fisher Marantz Stone in the Tesla Awards’ inaugural year. The Grant Street Pier embodies all that the NLB and the Tesla Awards work to promote: highbenefit lighting, collaboration, and best practices.
Through the gentle guiding presence of its lights, the Grant Street Pier acts as an inviting and multi-purposeful public space in a busy, growing city. •
PROJECT DETAILS: Vancouver Waterfront Park – Grant Street Pier and Plaza Vancouver, WA 18,000 sq. ft
Lighting Design: Kevin Frary, IALD, IES, LC Charles G. Stone II, FIALD, IES, LC, LEED AP BD+C Danielle Kelly, IALD, IES, WELL