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Blog Posts (89)

  • Introducing Placemaking After Dark

    NightSeeing™ aims to transform cities into welcoming, inspiring, inclusive night Are your planning efforts day-focused? What about the night? Read on for the Myrtle Beach case study. Scroll down to download the report with photos to learn more. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is planning and designing an Arts and Innovation District. Nighttime designer and urban lighting consultant, Leni Schwendinger was commissioned by the Myrtle Beach Downtown Alliance (MBDA) to conduct her NightSeeing™️ methodology to address nighttime and lighting issues and to set objectives for the future. Through close collaboration with MBDA, a customized program was delivered. This included a LightWalk, an invited workshop, a stakeholder Q&A, and an open public presentation. Stakeholders attended Leni’s talk and LightWalk tour where they experienced a fresh perspective on positive and negatively perceived night spaces, their social and physical conditions, and lighting atmospheres. The purpose was to provide a qualitative experience with a vision of the future in mind. Attendees included the Myrtle Beach Mayor, City Council, and City Operations staff. Small business owners and managers participated. Also in attendance were arts and culture representatives such as Coastal Carolina University. Vocabulary and the language of light were expanded to describe how the after-dusk vitalized district would look and feel. As a baseline, during the Envisioning Workshop, attendees identified three objectives for the District’s nighttime design. Identifiable pathways for walking and bikeways that emphasize connection A canvas of light with focal points designed with historic characteristics and innovative features Transformable fun spaces that welcome An enthusiastic community cohort was created through active learning, collective walking, and workshopping. A launch point has been established for a nighttime masterplan to improve the future Arts & Innovation District in Myrtle Beach.

  • Nighttime Design Criteria: Placemaking After-dark

    2023 update from Leni Schwendinger: I just returned from the Barcelona Smart City World Expo Congress. The premier Smart City conference established in 2011. The principles shared in this article, first published by Urban Design Forum March 27, 2019, remains relevant. And now, more than ever, the proposed 'Responsively Lit Outdoor Patch', a pilot that combines connected lighting, community co-design and capacity building is critically needed to test community-based smart lighting outcomes. It is time cities consider a range of criteria – user equity, economic viability, and health – and light for nighttime design and planning initiatives. By Leni Schwendinger, with Daleana Vega Martinez and Fatima Terin As the sun sets, 9-to-5’rs leave their place of work. By 11:00pm clubbers are prowling the city and third shift workers are just starting their “day.” With night activities and flexible working hours increasingly redefining urban experience, greater emphasis should be focused on the after-dark environment. Which transformational public palettes – design, policy, zoning – can successfully enlarge New York City public space inhabitation and work opportunities? Building upon the recently formed NYC Mayor’s Office of Nightlife with its appointed Night Mayor, let’s shine a laser on our “city that never sleeps” to improve the nighttime experience. Methodologies should include: the creation of integrated guidelines for strategic and operational nighttime design, and identification of resources required for this game-altering endeavor. In sum, empower the private and public sectors to consider placemaking methods for vibrant nighttimes. Enhancements to nighttime in cities flow from three main objectives: enhancing economic vitality, improving public health, and increasing safety and welcome. With these pillars in mind, nighttime design must be rooted in community-engagement methodologies while collaborating with municipal agencies and influencing policy. • Economy: Night industries such as dining and entertainment, as well as transportation/transit, medical and sanitation, employ thousands of people and draw tourists and residents to enrich commercial enterprise. Lighting best-practice techniques, such as connective, “smart”, technologies, save city funds. • Public Health: Walkability is a new standard for city streetscape design. Wayfinding increases intuitive navigation. Inspiring pocket parks, plazas and seating optimized for after-dark usage encourage a mix of exercise and social interaction. • Welcome and safety: City-wide strategies such as Vision Zero and increased mobility options establish safer streets. Incorporating social research and enabling tactical approaches such as responsive lighting pilots develop a sense of “ownership” and pride. Temporally-based policy to grapple with alcohol and drug-related violence is another tool for safer nights New York City has joined other global cities such as London, Sydney and Amsterdam with its recently passed Local Law 2017-178, amending the City Charter to establish an office of nightlife and advisory board. Internationally, such programs initially focus on quality of life issues arising from liquor consumption and “noise” and, on the positive side, the value of live music and performance. If the NYC program follows the best practice trajectory in other cities, the next step will be a focus on culture, expanding scope to overall night planning and design opportunities that affect everyday life in our city after-dark. It is time to re-draw city design visions to include the hours of darkness. This is an invitation to urbanists who believe in places that are welcoming, heterogeneous and inclusive from dusk to dawn. Let’s add “nighttime overlay” to the language of city planning. Leni Schwendinger is a published, award-winning authority on issues of city lighting. With over 20 years of worldwide experience, she has created illuminated environments at major infrastructure sites such as subways and bridges. Currently, she is directing a startup, the International Nighttime Design Initiative. This proposal was written in collaboration with Daleana Vega Martinez and Fatima Terin of the International Nighttime Design Initiative.

  • Leni Schwendinger Makes a Lightscape of the Evening Streetery Scene Part 14 of 15 proposals to help

    By Audrey Wachs Additional reporting by Sukjong Hong Intro by Leni Schwendinger I ❤️ the #NYC outdoor restaurants and worked on typologies with AIA New York | Center for Architecture. Before that, the early post-pandemic nights were so intriguing that Curbed and New York Magazine invited me to contribute to their March 2021 tribute to the pandemic. See my photo collage of the West Village sparkling streeteries (Graphic by #FatimaTerin) Many thanks to Sukjong Hong and Audrey Wachs Art: Photography by Leni Schwendinger/Graphic Design by Fatima Terin A year after New York City went into lockdown, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 30,000 of its residents. The tragedy’s scale has made it difficult to comprehend the private griefs so many of us have experienced: the million heartbreaks of lost friends, lost livelihoods, lost neighborhood fixtures, lost senses of belonging. Instead of proposing a grand permanent memorial, we asked a wide range of New Yorkers about the moments from the pandemic that stood out to them and how they would want those experiences to be commemorated. In response, a selection of architects and artists translated those memories into proposals for temporary installations. We imposed no budget limit and no restrictions: The result could be a sculpture, a mural, a pavilion, a song — anything that could become part of the streetscape for a while. Presented here is one of 15 concepts submitted by architects, designers, artists, and composers; the rest will appear over the course of this week. Client: Kalkin Narvilas Restaurateur, Saggio and Uptown Garrison in Washington Heights, Cent’Anni in Crown Heights, and Midwood Flats in Flatbush. Kalkin Narvilas: I have restaurants I like to think that have soul. I’m not shooting for a Michelin star. I’m not a chef. It’s just the overall kind of community and clubhouse and neighborhood place where people come to celebrate and to meet and to be social, which is why I was very scared when it hit the fan. And I was in disbelief in the beginning. I literally was like, ‘Ha! Come and close me. I’d like to see that.’ And then, before you know it, we were delivery-only starting March 16th. I was facing the loss of my entire life’s work, and I don’t have a degree or something that I can go look for a job. I would have to start from scratch again. We closed March 28th and I reopened the Uptown Garrison for coffee the very end of April. And then, by the first week in May, I had all four places open. So the first round of pivots were at the end of June. They let us have that outdoor seating. So now we’re like a brick and mortar food truck. We’re selling branded Dram cans, canning our own cocktails, we have pomme frites in the wax cone things with dipping sauces, we have little sliders. We started doing a CSA box with one of our farms that we used to work with that we put out in the window… Then winter came and we had to pivot again. And I was always afraid of it. But my wait staff, my bartenders, my baristas, everybody was a unicorn. People that were waiters now became baristas, and learned how to be bartenders. It was really incredible. I started looking into these igloos that I saw on the Upper West Side before it was even that cold. And we made them as nice as we could. And I was like, all right, let’s give people an experience. I came up with the idea of doing s’mores. I have a pastry chef on my team that was like, ‘Hey, I can make the marshmallows.’ So we had the s’mores with a raspberry and a vanilla and a maple tahini marshmallow. It’s like the cream has risen to the top for me; the people that have been with me fighting this fight and adjusting with me and and trusting me and moving forward… All my places are like my children. I’ll be laughing when this pandemic’s over and I have my life, that’s my victory. And I have people now that I could focus on and I could give my love to; I’m not distracted anymore. Lighting Designer: Leni Schwendinger As an urban lighting and nighttime designer, Leni Schwendinger has a sharp eye for atmosphere. She came away from Kalkin Narvilas’s story with a sense of the difficulty he had adapting his business to fluctuating COVID positivity rates as well as the city’s game of red light, green light with outdoor dining. It made her think, she said, of her own relationship to streeteries, the provisional and often stylish partitioned patios that restaurateurs like Narvilas have built on sidewalks and reclaimed parking spaces. She started photographing the streeteries in October. “I was fascinated by the workmen in the street pounding two-by-fours together with openings and doors, building right in the street,” Schwendinger said. “And then the lights appeared. I was tickled by what I saw.” Schwendinger said she walked the blocks near her home in the West Village many nights just to see the outdoor setups, which ranged from ad hoc to sophisticated. “I was interested in how restaurant owners were draping the lights, and how they were using things like ambient heaters for light. I was observing what colors people were using or not using. The variety of applications, the inventiveness: Are we stretching the string [lights]? Are we draping it? Was it overhead? Is it on the window?” She brought these questions to bear on the lighting schemes she captured for Narvilas’s memorial, which features an illustrated cityscape overlaid onto a collage of photographs from her walks. In the graphic, Schwendinger and her collaborator, urban designer Fatima Terin, drew parallels between Narvilas’s pivots to keep his restaurants viable and the role of improvised lighting schemes in defining the mood of DIY outdoor dining rooms. The graphic moves from darkness at the bottom to lightness at the top, a reflection of Narvalis’s move from doubt and financial uncertainty to solutions like his daring menu experiments that have kept his businesses afloat. If Narvilas is on board, she imagines linking the collage to a QR code on the menu. “Diners would get the image as a hors d’oeuvre,” Schwendinger said. “We felt passionate about creating an image that both mirrors the experience of this year and is a representation of his ingenuity.” Read more about Neighborhood Commons....

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Other Pages (83)

  • Professional Lighting Design | Light Projects | Lighting Studio | City, Urban and Public Space Lighting | Light Projects by Leni Schwendinger

    URBAN LIGHTING TRANSFORMS PLACES AFTER SUNSET KEY S ERVICES Pre-Design Discovery Existing Conditions Audit Community Engagement through NightSeeing ™ ​ ​ Lighting Design Phases ​ ​ CONCEPT SCOPE - Develop concepts to enhance landscape and architectural design themes - Basis of Design Report (Schematic) - Review and Comment (Final Design) - Site Commissioning ​ FULL-SERVICE SCOPE - Concept through Construction Documents - Site Commissioning - Site Commissioning HIGHLY QUALIFIED WOMAN-OWNED BUSINESS ENTERPRISE (WBE) DOWNLOADS NY STATE WBE CERTIFICATION NY CITY WBE CERTIFICATION PORT AUTHORITY WBE CERTIFICATION DESIGN PRACTICE SERVICES DOCUMENT LENI SCHWENDINGER For more than 20 years, Leni’s exploration of light has evolved into a profound understanding of the medium, which informs her unique approach across a variety of genres, including infrastructure, landmarks and the ever-changing urban environment and inclusive of community engagement practice. Her work weaves the dramatic and playful possibilities of light onto the fabric of urban life, sparking an expansion of social interaction and activity in public gathering places. She is an expert in light planning, with clients in the U.S. such as Downtown Santa Monica, City of Saratoga Springs, 82nd Street Partnership (Queens), city councils in Australia and Colombia. Recent lighting design projects can be experienced at sites such as parks, subways and bridges for architects, engineers and landscape architects. Examples include the New York MTA Subway Refurbishment, Cleveland’s Little Italy transit head-house, Hunters Point South Park (NYC) and Mulberry Commons (New Jersey). She directs International Nighttime Design Initiative which is establishing an interdisciplinary profession. Projects for the Initiative include Smart Lighting Guidance for New York State and developing innovative pilots with think-tank, New Urban Mobility. Around the world, for a decade, people have joined in the NightSeeing™ Navigate Your Luminous City program. These “LightWalks” have been conducted in New York City, Seattle and Portland, US; London, UK; Bogota, CO; Prague, CZ; Sydney, AU; to name a few metropolitan locations. Now, an internationally in-demand speaker, Schwendinger is considered a pioneer and authority on urban lighting and infrastructure. She is the recipient of numerous professional awards and global media coverage. Her prestigious fellowships include affiliations with Visiting Research Fellow at the London School of Economics, Design Trust for Public Space (NYC) and Urban Design Forum.

  • The Park

    Landscape + Parks < Previous Next > Photos: Hanns Joosten Photos: Hanns Joosten The Park Location Las Vegas, Nevada Client MGM Resorts International Team !MELK, Marnell Architecture, Cooper Robertson & Partners, Arup ​ ​ “The Park”, is the first open green space on the Las Vegas Strip. Schwendinger, with Arup, created illumination concepts for the 55 to 75-foot tall, individually unique, shade structures. Built in a shipyard in Rotterdam, Leni was allowed two working nights to demonstrate the winning color-changing schemes. The typological light angles were documented in-situ. Once shipped and installed into The Park, Arup’s lighting design team supervised light fixture placements on specialty mounting plates inside the structures. Lighting technicians were required to wear climbing gear to scale the steep metal side walls while attaching and cabling the LED color changing units. Light is primarily emitted from inside out. The inner perforated surfaces of the tulip-shaped structures are painted white as a slender canvas for boldly reflected hues of the rigorously planned color palette. Illumination cast onto the dark exterior surfaces is restricted to surprise moments to give the sense of opening up or blooming. Computer program sequences were conducted over several nights. It was important to calibrate the brightness and dynamics in relation to the surrounding Strip with its highly colored blinking light-signs. The sixteen monumental shade structures transform mesmerically throughout the evening and, on the quarter-hour, depict colors of cactus blossoms.


    Landscape + Parks < Previous Next > Photos: Mark Johnson / Civitas ​ NORTH EMBARCADERO VISION PROJECT (NEVP) Location San Diego, CA Client Port of San Diego Team Project Design Consultants, Civitas, Spurlock Poirier ​ ​ For the San Diego Esplanade, Leni Schwendinger Light Projects’ team designed illumination for the waterfront, gardens, and the Broadway approach. A multi-year project, the Embarcadero’s asphalt surfaces, sad kiosks, and lack of trees set against the magnificent San Diego Bay waters provided bones for revitalization. The project envisioned a gateway to San Diego’s downtown creating a regenerated destination. The consultant team worked with multiple clients, including the business improvement district, Civic San Diego, Port of San Diego, and the City of San Diego. A welcoming urban park interwoven with a working waterfront was the result of the redeveloped masterplan. Following a highly collaborative, public engagement process, Phase 1 of NEVP reclaimed a 1,000-foot long vehicular-oriented throughway and returns the Bay’s water’s edge to thousands of visitors enjoying the many cultural activities found along the water’s edge. The Light Projects’ team collaborated closely with two landscape architects, urban designer, engineers, and public artist. Amid the lush landscape of trees, paths, and plazas, visitors encounter architecturally bold ticket kiosks, artist-designed shade pavilions, and a café. The lighting, graphics, and furnishings recall the craft and heft of the maritime industries. A series of formal garden rooms are defined by the redesigned landscape with seating areas and a complement of custom light poles. An 8-foot-wide water quality band provides visible conveyance and treatment of stormwater to the harbor’s edge. Parallel to the walkway a runnel creates an incised, illuminated line at night. A grand hallway along West Broadway is created by Medjool Date Palm trees planted along the median and sidewalks. The tall, linear palms alternate with Schwendinger’s spiral light-poles, which are 30-feet high and perform both street lighting and up-light the palm tree canopies. At the end of Broadway, the Port Pavilion features Schwendinger’s Tidal Radiance a dynamic, exterior glass, metals, and public-art light wall. All elements of the project, including plant materials, ground surfaces, and furnishing designs, were based on the appropriate scale and durability for the coastal environment.

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