Making Connections With Light

Is it possible to connect two very different places with nothing more than lights and creativity? Take a stroll in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma from the Santa Fe Transportation Hub to the Bricktown entertainment district to find out…

Welcome to Santa Fe Station!

About 45,000 people rode the trains at the Santa Fe Station in 2019 – and that is only the train passengers. The transportation hub allows visitors and local commuters alike to rent bikes, take a streetcar, hop on a bus, or catch a train all from one convenient location. Ideally situated in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, passengers can cross the street to the Cox Convention Center, ride the light rail to Scissortail Park, take a bus to the Myriad Botanical Gardens, or walk right into the vibrant Bricktown district.

Originally built in 1932, the Santa Fe terminal underwent extensive renovations in 2017 to preserve its classic art deco style and bring the building systems up to modern standards, making it a beautiful new entryway into Bricktown. Recognizing the potential for this to become a high-traffic area, the city invested in better lighting for the connection between the station and entertainment district.

View inside the lobby at the Santa Fe Train Station in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
A view through one of the underpasses to Bricktown in OKC

Right this way to Bricktown

Anyone looking to get to Bricktown from the station can simply follow the art deco style that served as the design inspiration for the entire project. “We wanted to create movement into and out of the underpasses with the lighting as best we could,” Ben Williams, an electrical designer at Alvine Engineering explains. “The triangle and diamond shaped light fixtures used in the Sheridan and Reno Avenue underpasses pay homage to the art deco style of the terminal, while also pointing the way through the underpass.” A destination of its own, the underpasses feature colorful murals painted and maintained by local artists. The Alvine Engineering lighting design team used wallwash fixtures to keep this artwork the focal point and not let the lighting become a distraction.

Encouraging a safe environment through the underpasses and all along the walkway was a top priority for the design, so achieving appropriate lighting levels was very important. This was a little more challenging along the walkway on the Bricktown side because lights could not be mounted to the wall since it was not owned by the city. Instead, the Alvine team proposed a catenary lighting solution that has a zig-zag shape and lights that are similar to the rest of the art deco design. The catenary lights were eventually chosen for their art deco style and reminiscence of old train station lanterns, tying them back into the Santa Fe train terminal on the other side of the underpasses.

Connecting people and past designs

The walkway to Bricktown used to be lined with burned out lights, making it not only dark and uninviting, but unsafe. Since the improvements, the walkway has become a destination to admire artwork, including some of the lights themselves, which can change color like many of OKC’s downtown icons. Overall, the connection to Bricktown has resulted in a variety of positive benefits, especially boosting the local economy and happiness by encouraging locals and visitors to explore everything from local shops and eateries to the Bricktown canal water taxi. On the design side, it was a favorite among team members. “It was a really cool project to work on with Bricktown being the main downtown attraction and these underpasses are the entry from downtown to the area,” Williams shares. “It was fun to use the art deco history of the Santa Fe Terminal and bring that design into modern times.”

Sheridan and Reno Avenue Underpasses

Before

Bricktown walkway before the relighting project

 After

Aerial view of the Bricktown walkway in OKC after relighting
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