Attention product designers and engineers who want to make the LA brighter, more beautiful and more earth friendly — there’s still time to enter the City’s design competition to develop new streetlights.
We love that the photo above was taken in front of artist Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” installation, which consists of 202 cast-iron historic streetlights arranged along Wilshire Boulevard. The competition design brief describes the installation as “a sort of open-air temple marking the entrance to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art…that has stuck with the organizers of this competition. The design of streetlights, [Burden] noted, reveals something important “about what constitutes a civilized and sophisticated city, safe after dark and beautiful to behold.””
Those of us fortunate to live in neighborhoods with historic street lights like those featured in “Urban Light” hope this means the City values our historic light standards and will support neighborhood efforts to replace and repair historic lights. Windsor Square’s effort to repair and replace some 99 streetlights began in 2006 and finally got underway in 2012. It was a long time in coming but well worth it.
Looking for a city-wide solution, the L.A. Lights the Way competition was announced last month to invite professionals and students to enter a competition to design and create a new standard streetlight for Los Angeles. Applicants are asked to consider how streetlights can incorporate new technology, include a written plaque or other space for text on each pole, and provide shade to help ease the impacts of the climate crisis. The deadline for applicants to complete the registration process is January 10, 2020.
Led by the Mayor’s Office and the Bureau of Street Lighting, The competition is open to applicants from across the world, and will award more than $75,000 in prizes — including $70,000 to the overall winner and smaller prizes to high school, college, and graduate school students from across L.A. County. The entries will be judged by a panel of seven experts in design, lighting, and public infrastructure, and the winner will be announced in June 2020.
“When we invest in smarter design in our streetlights and infrastructure, we can do more than brighten our public spaces — we can illuminate a future that’s cleaner, greener, and safer for all Angelenos,” said Mayor Garcetti. “L.A. Lights the Way is a competition where the winners aren’t the artists alone, but the people who live, work, and walk in our neighborhoods every day — and it will help us combat climate change and promote equity across our city.”
“L.A. Lights the Way is a unique opportunity to open the door for creativity and innovation from artists, designers, and students around the world who will play a role in re-envisioning our great City’s streetlight design, while also improving our infrastructure in the process,” said Los Angeles Board of Public Works Vice President Aura Garcia. “As a juror for the professional competition, I encourage experts in lighting design, industrial design, engineering, and licensed architects to come together to submit their designs and illuminate the future for all Angelenos.”
The Bureau of Street Lighting installs 1,000 to 2,000 standard streetlights each year, giving the winner of the competition the chance to shape public-realm design at a dramatic scale and in nearly every corner of Los Angeles. The final design will not impact the standing of historic streetlights already in place across the city. Instead, it will gradually replace the roughly 150,000 standard streetlights currently dispersed across Los Angeles.
“The City of Los Angeles has more than 223,000 streetlights that reflect our history through their beautiful designs,” said Bureau of Street Lighting Executive Director Norma Isahakian. “I am so excited that L.A. Lights the Way will allow our basic standard streetlight to be designed to reflect who we are as Angelenos and carry us into the future.”
In addition to requiring technological innovation, text, shade and lighting for pedestrians, applicants are also encouraged to build the following features into their designs:
- Hardware or other attachments to hold solar panels;
- Air quality monitors;
- EV charging stations;
- Real-time traffic monitors;
- 4G and 5G antennas and radios;
- Elements that aim to lower light pollution and take into account the welfare of wildlife; and
- Parking and wayfinding signs.
For more information, such as the timeline for the entire competition and other details, please visit LALightstheWay.org.