Innovative Lighting Design Transforms Reclaimed Public Space in Downtown Newark

A nondescript and underutilized downtown parking lot in Newark, New Jersey is now a lively new destination for residents, nearby workers, and visitors to the area.  The reclaimed public space has been transformed into an event plaza and inviting park with a focus on safety and comfort.

Mulberry Commons Park was more than a decade in the planning and is phase one of a project that will eventually see the creation of a 22-acre urban development and green space linking downtown Newark with local landmarks.

The Newark Community Economic Development Corporation created a unique public space consisting of an active event area and a garden space with outdoor seating, fountain, and play areas.  Walking paths join the Prudential Center arena and Newark Penn Station. 

Supermass Studio was hired for landscape architecture and Arup was brought in for civil and electrical engineering, as well as lighting design.

“The goal was to encourage people to feel safe and to connect in the park – not only during the day but also at night,” said Christoph Gisel, senior lighting designer at Arup. “It was important that the lighting contribute to that feeling of safety and comfort while creating an inviting environment.”

Arup selected Luminis’ Lumistik CL640 luminaire to light the pathways, gardens, and staircases of Mulberry Commons. The fixture’s clean extruded aluminum base and 48″ high column of light provide an architectural aesthetic that beautifully enhances the public area.

Lumistik’s high impact acrylic diffuser is designed to provide a uniform 360° of illumination. 

“It creates horizontal and vertical illumination on faces and feet as pedestrians move through the park,” said Gisel.

While the CL640 columns effectively illuminate the walkways and seating areas in the park, they are intentionally placed adjacent to trees, lighting the canopy of each tree for a more dynamic, impactful effect.

A total of 96 Lumistik luminaires fill the park, and the volume of luminaires was also deliberate. They offer a dramatic presence in the overall landscape design as well as reinforcing the safety aspect.

“We wanted to provide more lighting than usually necessary,” Gisel said. “At 3000K color temperature, the lighting is soft, but there is a lot of it. It is bright enough to read a book if you want to.”

Mulberry Commons has already become the beautiful downtown centerpiece that was envisioned so long ago: the project received a Design Excellence Award of Merit from the American Institute of Architecture New York and American Society of Landscape Architects New York. Lighting design ensures it will be a gathering space for the community, both day and night, as Newark looks to the next phase of downtown growth and development.

“Collectively, the Luminis fixtures become part of the larger space to form a unified field of lights,” said Taewook Cha, principal and creative director at Supermass Studio. “It becomes this nice warm space that wraps around you. The transformation of the space at night is quite magical.”

Innovative Lighting Design Transforms Reclaimed Public Space in Downtown Newark

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