Washington’s new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge spans 1,200 feet across the Anacostia River, replacing a 1950’s era swing bridge that had deteriorated beyond repair. The new bridge was envisioned as a gateway to South Capitol Street and onward as a processional route to Capitol Hill.
Lighting for the new through arch bridge was inspired by the bridge’s graceful relationship to the water’s surface, seeming to float above the river. The elegant arched forms appear to simply “skip” across the water.
The lighting design process included numerous renderings to facilitate the selection of the desired nighttime aesthetic. The resulting scheme used narrow distribution of 200-watt RGBW LED precision floodlights positioned at the spring point of each arch. Luminaires were located on the underside of the arches and both outside surfaces. Additionally, smaller 50-watt RGBW LED luminaires were installed flanking each of the suspension cables along the deck to provide accent to the cables themselves and, collectively, bathe the underside of the arches’ mid-spans. Since the cables were of differing lengths, custom linear spread lenses were needed at each position to provide consistent and necessary illumination.
The final positioning of lighting equipment was fine-tuned in full-scale mock-ups on site.
A centralized DMX lighting control system was incorporated into the design to permit the creation of both white light and color mixing schemes. Scenes and dynamic “shows” were programmed to provide options for time-of-day changes, seasonal effects, and special events.
The new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge is a welcome addition along the banks of the Anacostia River, with a lighting design that has been well received by both client and public alike.