AWA NEWS: “Getting It Built- No Excuses!” Series- Part 2 of 4

AWA NEWS: “Getting It Built- No Excuses!” Series- Part 2 of 4

PART 2 of 4
Overcoming Site Challenges

Getting it built per the design intent while wading through cost-cutting, fixture substitutions, design changes, and delays is not a walk in the park. We work intently to get our design ideas built correctly and delete the likelihood of excuses and post-facto rationalization that can sometimes be used to explain shoddy execution of design intent.

Abhay Wadhwa
Design Principal  l  CEO
AWA Lighting Designers

AWA Showcase Project: Ark of Return

For our “Getting It Built – No Excuses!” Series, the first project showcased is the “Ark of Return,” a memorial for the abolition of slavery located in the UN Plaza in New York City. This project is designed by Rodney Leon Architects. 

“Acknowledge the Tragedy, Consider the Legacy, Lest We Forget” – these three distinct phrases individually and collectively form the inspiration for our reverential lighting design approach for the monument. The design approach was carefully pared down to using only those light fixtures and light positions that created an evocative and thoughtful experience for the visitor.

Besides the standard coordination issues of working on a very visible project in the public realm, the Ark of Return had one key hurdle that AWA had to address proactively in order for the project to be built per design intent. Once this hand-carved monolithic stone memorial was completed and installed, we could not move the stone for any future maintenance required. Because of this design constraint, a detailed wire management plan was developed where all drivers and electronics were located in the basement, and then the ingress into the structure was closely coordinated with the structure and services to ensure that the path of the wires and drivers was unobstructed. It was decided that there would only be one location for the lighting services to penetrate the slab to the parking level below.
No junction boxes and wire splice compartments were possible in the monument itself. This required the lighting fixtures to be provided with the exact length of wire power tails such that the splice point will be at the junction box in the basement below. Because the basement slab was also heavily populated with services and since we had to cluster the wires around the one entry point, running long home runs required an extensive survey of the existing conditions. We worked closely with the installers all the way to make sure all fixtures were installed per plan and then worked appropriately with the lighting controls. 

a look back on the path of the memorial
a look from outside the memorial


Please stay tuned for our next newsletter in the “Getting It Built- No Excuses!” Series which will be released next Tuesday. In that, we will showcase how we build projects in aggressive climates with high heat and humidity.

  • PART 3 of 4 – Developing Performance Specifications – AWA Showcase Project: ICC Towers
  • PART 4 of 4 – Where are We Going?

Read Part 1 of 4 – “Getting It Built- No Excuses!” Introduction Newsletter HERE.

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