Centre Street Bridge, Calgary

“The Lions Awaken” – which is the new lighting installed on the Centre Street Bridge in Calgary, Canada has received one of two new Design Lion Awards. The Calgary Heritage Authority Lion Awards recognizes citizens and groups who have undertaken initiatives, of any scale, in support of heritage preservation in Calgary.

The awards are given at a ceremony that is held every two years and the recipients are selected by a jury made up of Calgary Heritage Authority board members and other distinguished members of the community.

For nearly 100 years, the Centre Street Bridge has been a historical beacon in Calgary’s landscape. Now after renovation, the lights on the bridge are shining with an environmentally friendly glow after the City installed new white LED lighting.

The lighting design was completed by Lighting Design Innovations (LDI) which was founded by the partnership of Paul and Kimberly Mercier in 2000. The recipients of various IESNA International Illumination Design Awards, the design team were involved in producing case studies for the City of Calgary Illumination Guidelines in 2007 and then went on to produce the final design for the bridge.

They wanted to incorporate lighting into the bridge architecture in a way that complemented the cultural significance of the sculptures while taking into account the environmental impact.


The bridge is gently bathed with soft LED lighting along the pedestrian walkways. Underneath, additional luminaires are used, allowing the shape of its original architecture to be revealed. The bridge features two enormous lions which form the gateway to the Chinatown area. The lion sculptures are said to be reminiscent of a Chinese legend in which they come alive at night to guard the city. LDI helped convey the legend by surrounding the lions with tightly focused spot lights revealing the amazing detail not seen before with conventional lighting.


A calculation of the carbon footprint showed that in removing the existing HPS luminaires and replacing them with LED luminaires, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the lighting system could be reduced by up to 21 metric tons per year. LED accent lights are used in the new design to illuminate the lions and the buffalo heads on the pavilions as well as to accent the corners of each pavilion. Using 3000 Kelvin color temperature LED lamps allows for a warm historic feeling (like incandescent) light to be used while also keeping the energy consumption down. Positioning the luminaires nearer to the features they are illuminating and utilizing different beam spreads and distributions of light, allows for the wattage of the light sources to remain low.

Enhancing the lighting of existing structures in the downtown area is a focus for the City of Calgary. The goal is to create a more vibrant, inviting environment for people to better experience all that Calgary has to offer. In an interview with David A. Down, an Architect with the City and responsible for this project, he told Lighting.com that “to bring vitality to the City we need to use a very important tool – and that is lighting”. “The existing lighting uses old technology, it is inefficient and it simply doesn’t do a good job. We wanted to upgrade the lighting in accordance with our 2007 City Centre Plan ready for the 100th birthday of the bridge in 2016” he added.
The new lighting system creates a much more sustainable model of highlighting the bridge’s features as a gateway to Chinatown and an iconic symbol of Calgary with its majestic lion statues. The choice of LEDs mean lower maintenance costs and more efficient energy use for the City.



Written by Julie Allen
This article was originally published December 2012 on Lighting.com and is reprinted with their kind permission.

Photography of daytime and rendering: LDI
Photography of finished project: Mike Heywood, Studio 1826

10 Jul