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Resilience Illuminated: Reviving Westminster Pier Park After Devastating Fire

  • September 2020: Deliberate fire ravages New Westminster’s waterfront park, destroying its iconic features.
  • April 2021: Mayor’s vow and community determination led to the reopening of Westminster Pier Park with enhanced amenities.
  • Innovative Playground: The redesigned space offers diverse play zones and safety features for children of all ages.
  • Lighting Transformation: Collaborative effort brings custom Pixel Bars and Dyna Drum fixtures, ensuring a warm and secure nighttime environment for park visitors.

In September 2020, the picturesque city of New Westminster near Vancouver in British Columbia suffered a devastating setback when an intentionally set fire destroyed much of the city’s waterfront park, including its urban beach, sand volleyball courts, and iconic art installation known as Wow Westminster.

The fire, which burned for ten days before firefighters could fully extinguish it, forever changed the look of Westminster Pier Park, which, in December 2012, was recognized by the industrial design publication Innovation for its outstanding engineering, innovation, and complexity. The innovative park was uniquely constructed with equal parts built on land and water supported by 3,600 pilings. It connected visitors to the Fraser River and, when combined with the Waterfront Esplanade Boardwalk, created a magnificent 1.5-mile waterfront park that included a 325-meter-long boardwalk, festival lawn, concessions, elevated viewpoints, trees, gardens, benches, accessible picnic tables, a basketball court, public art, and play area.

Westminster

Despite strong resident concerns about the likelihood of being able to rebuild the park, the City’s Mayor vowed that the Park would reopen and continue to serve as a primary community gathering space. In April 2021, only seven months after the historic fire swept along the waterfront, Westminster Pier Park was resurrected with a new extensive pedestrian walkway and play area.

The newly designed playground, which features a large spiral tube slide, improved on the former play space with flexible spaces and age-specific play zones to create an experientially rich place with diverse play types that accommodate all ages and abilities. The playground is also outfitted with different seesaws to attract children of various ages, as well as several obstacle courses and safe places to climb above a soft, spongy floor that helps prevent injuries. There are even several benches and comfortable lawn chairs facing the equipment, so parents and caregivers can relax while keeping an eye on their little ones.

The new West Pier pedestrian bridge was designed with the same innovation and engineering ingenuity as the original bridge, capitalizing on the pedestrian overpass’s unique opportunities. The surrounding inclined walkways provide much-needed weather protection to allow year-round play at the new playground.

Creating a safe, warm environment at night for Westminster Pier

The City wanted to create a warm and safe nighttime environment to ensure maximum use of the pedestrian walkway and playground. A comprehensive team of lighting experts was called in to make this vision a reality. The team included Mac’s II Agencies, a lighting and electrical agency based in Coquitlam, BC, which was responsible for project design; Allwest Electric, an electrical contractor based in Port Coquitlam, BC; Nemetz (S/A) & Associates, Ltd, an electrical engineer from Vancouver; and Amerisis Lighting Corp, a lighting manufacturer/distributor in Pitt Meadows, BC.

The team investigated many lighting options before making a final decision that it felt provided the type of warmth and security that the City desired.

“Nemetz wanted precision-engineered fixtures that were designed for high visibility and could deliver very long all-weather runs to illuminate pathways at night and provide a safe environment,” said Chris Brams, sales manager for Mac’s II Agencies, one of Canada’s premier designers and providers of high-quality lighting and electrical products.

The team specified 100 custom 3000K Pixel Bars from Acclaim Lighting, headquartered in Los Angeles. Pixel Bars are outdoor-rated, pixel-controllable, direct-view LED fixtures with a rounded or flat diffused lens. IP66-rated for wet locations, the fixtures have an internal 90-277 VAC auto-switching power supply. They are available in Spectrum RGBW (W=3000K), RGBA, and Dynamic White (2700K-6000K) with a 168º beam angle. Delivering 100 lumens per foot with a 70% lumen rating at 100,000 hours, the custom Pixel Bars will operate in temperatures from -40º F to 122º F (-40º C to 50º C) in high humidity environments.

“We found that the Pixel Bars were ideal for the exterior pathway application because of the seamless strips of light that allowed pedestrians to safely enjoy their walks or runs in almost any weather conditions on the waterfront,” added Brams.

Complementing the custom Pixel Bars on the pedestrian walkway were 4′ diffused flat, RGBW 3000K Pixel Bars were installed vertically in the wall underneath the handrails on the pedestrian bridge and ramp areas. These Pixel Bars offered the same aesthetic and performance benefits as the custom fixtures.

To provide high-output lighting underneath the bridge near the playground, the lighting team specified 34 Dyna Drum SO DW, also from Acclaim Lighting. Each fixture delivers more than 7700 lumens. The outdoor rated LED flood fixtures feature an adjustable yoke, onboard digital display, a 100- 277VAC internal power supply, and a built-in Aria wireless DMX system receiver for precise light direction and distribution, minimizing shadows and maximizing safety.

Complementing the Dyna Drum SO DW fixtures, 12 Dyna Accent Minis were installed on the underside of the bridge and ramp aimed towards the park and play areas. The compact, high-power LED floodlights are designed to fit in the tightest spaces. They also feature an internal 100-240 + 277VAC power supply and onboard DMX+RDM driver, and each unit carries Acclaim’s Aria wireless DMX technology inside.

Dyna Accent Mini has a narrow 7º or 12º beam standard, with optional quick-change spread lenses for wider applications. Their low profile and high output made them the perfect solution for the Westminster Pier Park playground.

“The combination of the lighting fixtures helped us achieve our goal of providing a conducive, safe environment so that all our residents and guests can again enjoy the award-winning Westminster Pier Park,” said Brams.

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