Vari-Lite Shines Bright on the Jamestown Riverwalk

The Jamestown Bridge in New York is brought to life in vibrant colors by Vari-Lite.
(Image credit: Vari-Lite)

Jamestown New York’s Riverwalk Illumination Project officially opened in November as part of a $10-million city rejuvenation program. The system highlights city landmarks including the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities coal silo, the Washington Street Bridge piers and abutments, and the Main Street Bridge arches over the Chadakoin River. All these structures are now alive with a range of colorful lighting scenes, with the entire system driven by a Neo Playback Controller paired with a Vision.Net system from Vari-Lite. 

The coal silo is illuminated by a top and bottom ring of lighting fixtures and the bridges have custom-designed poles supporting more than 50 flood lights. To achieve the looks, the Vari-Lite (opens in new tab)-designed control rack communicates intensity and color information to custom designed remote DMX distribution hardware using a fiber network, with the Neo and Vision.Net controls located in the Jamestown BPU IT room. Remote cabinets are also positioned at each of the three highlighted landmarks. 

Bobby Harrell, Vari-Lite sales and applications specialist at Signify, supported the project from the outset, working with Michael J. Piraino Jr., control division manager, Lightspec, to specify a lighting control solution for the ambitious initiative. 

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“Any time a project like this in design development phase comes to me, my first questions are: does it need an astronomical time clock? Do you need remote access to it? Do you need dynamic control? Do you need to be able to do color effects and intensity effects?" explained Harrell. "And once those boxes get checked, that tells me that Neo is going to be the right solution.

“Both the Vision.Net and Neo components have the capability of doing astronomical time clock timed events. We've got certain presets set up on the Vision.Net, like color and level, controlled by virtual push buttons on the touch screens. And then the Neo allows you to do more sophisticated programming if you want to run effects or event-style lighting.”

“The lighting can be programmed for special events or days," Piraino continued. "The system had to be hands off for day-to-day operations, just running on its own with nobody having to interface with it. There are, of course, civic events and special occasions, which require special attention and new lighting states programmed, and Jamestown City Hall oversees these events. To ensure this could happen, we had to make the system large enough to expand when necessary and the Neo with Vision.Net fits that bill.

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“For the special occasions events we added a Vision.Net touch screen, so that if somebody needs to turn the lighting red, or blue they can go to the touch screen and simply achieve that. It needed to have a user interface and enough horsepower to grow with the expansion, plus have internal control so it could run unattended. In fact, both systems have the potential to be controlled remotely. It uses an internal astronomic time clock to switch on and off every day.”

Along the walk, at each architectural element, there's an equipment rack where the fiber data cable comes in and connects to a network switch, which has a network port. This means the team can simply plug in a laptop and use the Neo software to connect to the main desk remotely to program new looks or live control effects and colors.

The Jamestown Riverwalk aims to expand over the coming months, to add further lighting along its path, buildings and bridges. “There is already talk about tying any new lighting into our system and we’ve installed a system that is scalable for further growth when required,” added Harrell.

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At the launch event, Jamestown mayor Eddie Sundquist acknowledged creative and technical input from a range of organizations, including Stark Tech, Becc Electric, Lightspec, the BPU, city Department of Public Works, city Department of Development, City Parks Department, city council members and Jamestown Renaissance Corp. The project is set to make the area safer, attract more visitors, and highlight the area’s rich heritage sites.

The AVNetwork staff are storytellers focused on the professional audiovisual and technology industry. Their mission is to keep readers up-to-date on the latest AV/IT industry and product news, emerging trends, and inspiring installations.