​The National War memorial

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​The National War memorial

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Client: Public Works and Government Services Canada

Services: Exterior architectural lighting

Location: Ottawa

Description:

Awards: The International Illumination Design Award of Merit, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, 2001

Description:

In 1999, MCLD secured a contract with public works to re-light the war memorial. This subsequently led to the lighting of the memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which was installed in 2001. MCLD had, in joint venture, lit the memorial in 1991 using available technology at the time, which essentially consisted of outdoor flood lighting with very little optical control. In 1999, we took a different approach, and decided to first and foremost develop a lighting design strategy which spoke to the monument and the work of the artist and sculptor, but at the same time added its own layer of interpretation; specifically, the use of shadow to suggest the missing and fallen soldiers. Of primary concern was to allow the public to pay homage without onlookers becoming part of the overall picture or being distracted by light shining into their eyes . To achieve these goals, we modified theatrical lighting technology for use outdoors. Using spot lights, we lit certain key elements of the monument, while allowing others to recede into darkness. All light was tightly focused onto the monument and statuary. We employed the same technique when we lit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in 2001. By locating the lighting equipment on the roof of an adjacent building some 390ft away and again using techniques developed in theatre, we were able to light only the tomb, while having no light spill onto the surrounding area.

This lighting remains iconic to this day, and the monument is one of the most visited and photographed memorials in Canada.

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