Landmark Charleston Coliseum And Convention Center Lights A Warm Welcome

The Charleston Civic Center has been the meeting point for this West Virginia capitol city since 1959. The site has seen many renovations and expansions over the years, but none so grand as its transformation to what is now known as the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center. The two-and-a-half year, $107 million project included mechanical and electrical work in the coliseum, but the focus was on the renovation of 266,000 sq. ft. of convention center space, including the addition of a 25,000 sq.ft. ballroom, meeting space, state-of-the-art kitchen and a grand entranceway.

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A lot of attention was placed on the exterior surroundings. The city wanted to take full advantage of the facility’s unique location on the Elk River, with the addition of a riverfront park and other outdoor spaces for cocktail parties and art installations.

Ensuring the grounds are as inviting at night as they are during the day involved very intentional lighting choices. ZMM Architects & Engineers, GAI Consultants, Robert S. Kimball Associates, Inc. and M & L Electric Co. were tasked with creating the lighting scheme. Luminis’ Lumistik CL840 column luminaire was selected to line the driveways and walkways surrounding the façade and leading up to the new convention center entrance. The sleek and modern 14’ high column features an LED housed in a 50” high white acrylic cylinder. Its base is a matte silver corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy. The overall effect is designed to provide a uniform column of illumination.

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“We were looking for something that did not overpower or underpower the space,” said Robert S. Kimball, president of Robert S. Kimball Associates, Inc. “The fixture provides excellent visibility and safety with 360° of illumination along the walkway, but it’s a controlled light without being harsh. Everything has a white opaque color to it, with no hard edges.”

Guests who choose to arrive at the venue via boat are well-serviced with docking facilities and a pathway leading up to the Center. The landscaping in this area is quite unusual – the new convention center lobby and reception space is elevated and cantilevered over a low slope that leads to the water. Finding the appropriate lighting to offer a safe and secure environment for boaters and pedestrians was paramount.

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A series of Luminis’ Syrios SY810 exterior ceiling fixtures are installed along the overhang. The unique design of the SY810 enables the light module to be aimed exactly where the light needs to be; in this case the light is directed down to the pathway and docks below, ensuring safe passage. The lighting also serves to highlight the center’s building supporting columns along the path, providing a striking reflection when viewed from across the river. The Syrios fixture is known for its durability, providing superior lighting performance that will withstand the rigors of a West Virginia summer or winter, whether wet or dry.

The project specifications clearly mandated that the most energy-efficient LED fixtures be provided. Both Syrios and Lumistik high-performance luminaires exceeded the project requirements. The post-renovation facility is now significantly more energy-efficient across its daily operations, including its lighting.

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The city of Charleston anticipates that the renovation of this landmark will be a positive investment for the community - and the state of West Virginia - as it seeks to attract more convention visitors to the city and stimulate more tourism. But it will also be a gathering place for its own citizens. Striking building design and inspiring landscaping and lighting create the right combination of awe and warmth that will welcome visitors for many years to come.

Project Name: Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center
Project completion: October 2018
Luminis Agent: Robert S. Kimball Associates, Inc.
Photography: Rick Lee