Photographer: Michael Jones
Ewweb 4655 Luminis Trimet Washington Park Platform Pano Small

Portland Underground Railway Station Revitalized with Lighting

April 24, 2018
Designers sought a lighting solution that provided a more dynamic appearance as well as efficiency and ease of maintenance.

The Washington Park MAX Station located beneath the hills west of downtown Portland, OR, is the deepest light-rail station in North America at 260 ft underground and is accessible via high speed elevators. The station serves some of the city’s main attractions, including the Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center, Portland Children’s Museum and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

In 2017 the station embarked upon a “Rehabilitation Project,” with Portland firm ZGF Architects tasked with revitalizing it. The firm set about making the station more welcoming with colorful zoo-themed wall coverings, and new wall designs in the elevator lobbies.

The lighting of the space was a particular focus and ZGF Architects partnered with Reyes Engineering to design a lighting scheme for this unique space. The team searched for a solution that provided a more dynamic appearance as well as addressing some of the operational challenges experienced with the existing fluorescent fixtures.

As well as providing welcoming illumination, the lighting solution had to satisfy other criteria. First, with the station illuminated 24 hours per day, every day, the lighting had to be energy efficient. Second, there was a preference to minimize maintenance requirements by selecting products with a long lifetime. And, finally, in an environment with significant dirt-build up, access for cleaning was critical.

“It is a unique environment,” Jim McCarty, senior lighting designer at Reyes Engineering, said in a release. “There is a constant stream of air through the tunnel, and with no air conditioning, it leads to dirt being deposited on all surfaces. So, it’s important to have ease of access to the luminaires for cleaning to keep the station bright.”

Reyes Engineering opted to use LumiSTIK products, from specification grade lighting manufacturer Luminis, Pointe Claire, Quebec. Two models of the range were used, forty LumiSTIK CL642 and sixteen LumiSTIK CL345 luminaires were installed to illuminate the elevator lobbies and the platform tunnel.

The LED luminaires are designed specifically for applications where public space enhancement is the goal, and were the perfect solution to meet the energy savings and longevity challenges. Long arrays of vertically mounted LumiSTIK CL642 pendants were used over the platforms, and the smaller CL345 versions were modified to allow for horizontal mounting to illuminate the elevator lobbies. Luminaires were also installed along ledges on the platform to uplight the ceiling arches.

Because the tunnels are subject to constant streams of air as the trains run through them, the pendant fixtures needed to be mounted in such a way as they would not swing due to air movement. This required a customized mounting solution. The pendant rods which supported the vertical luminaires were upgraded to 3/4” intermediate metal conduit (IMC), and secured with a trapeze conduit clamp above the visual field. This conduit clamp solution was devised by Reyes, and required Luminis to modify the standard luminaire mounting mechanism and verify its integrity.

For maintenance, the luminaires were positioned where they could make a visual impact and be most accessible for cleaning. The fixtures’ minimal mounting equipment makes accessibility for cleaning much easier than it was with the fluorescent fixtures they replaced.

 “The lighting solution works very well in the space,” said McCarty. “It provides plenty of light at the platform location, and helps to brighten the ceiling and walls and minimize any ‘cave effect’. The new scheme fills the entire space with light and directs light across the track to the new zoo-themed mural paintings.”

The renovation was completed in January 2018 with minimal disruption to the station. By closing one elevator lobby at a time, the entire install was able to be completed while allowing full access to the trains and at least two elevators.