Letters of Welcome
4th Street Bridge, Los Angeles.
The Executive Director, Bureau of Street Lighting
The Bureau of Street Lighting was created in 1925 and has had the honorable duty since that time of overseeing the design, construction, and maintenance of the street lighting system in the City of Los Angeles. Today’s current system includes more than 220,000 streetlights and more than 400 different designs representing our diverse city in history and culture.
First installed in the early 1900’s, the City-operated street lighting system has been prized for its design range. In the decades following World War II, Los Angeles witnessed the disappearance of our historical streetlights as the standard pole. The typical streetlight system instead began to use galvanized steel round or fluted poles. The light source over time has also evolved: from gas, incandescent, metal halide to high-pressure sodium and today’s LEDs. The Bureau is diligent in preserving our historical streetlights. Yet as the role of streetlights steps into the future, we are seeking a design that represents this transition into the age of the so-called Smart City.
It is the call of this design competition to help us create the L.A. streetlight of the future. In addition to the basic role of lighting the public right-of-way, this new streetlight will need to be capable of holding diverse elements including banners, street signs, and new technology.
It is my hope that we find a design that is economically feasible, elegant in nature, and flexible in accommodating future elements, with a design that will allow it become a beloved fixture in the City’s urban landscape. The Bureau has a small streetlight museum that shows the history and richness of our system. We invite all applicants to come visit this museum for inspiration and reference. It is important to be aware of the past in order to take bold steps towards a better future.
Good luck to all!
Executive Director, Bureau of Street Lighting
Benedict Canyon Pendant. Hollywood Special, and Five Globe Llewellyn.
The Chief Design Officer
Wilshire Double. Hollywood Special. Benedict Canyon Pendant. Five-globe Llewellyn. The names alone are enough to evoke a powerful set of memories for anyone familiar with the history of streetlight design in Los Angeles.
Now we have a chance to update that history for contemporary Los Angeles, with the city’s first-ever streetlight design competition. It has been a pleasure working with Norma Isahakian and her team at the Bureau of Street Lighting and with my Mayor’s Office colleagues to organize this effort. We believe it will be a chance not just to rethink the design of our standard streetlight, but to help set the tone for a revitalized 21st-century public realm in Los Angeles.
As Mayor Garcetti has frequently pointed out, the level of investment set to remake the public right of way in Los Angeles between now and 2040 is unprecedented in our city’s history – and perhaps in American urban history. With that investment comes a chance to redesign the basic building blocks of our urban realm.
In Los Angeles even more than other cities, it has been the streetlight that signals our collective design aspiration for our streets and sidewalks, these crucial shared spaces of the city. Now we have reached a stage in our civic evolution when we need to ask the standard streetlight to do more than it has traditionally — not just illuminate our roadways but provide light for pedestrians and cyclists; open up space for poetry or descriptions of nearby architectural landmarks; carry LED strips that would allow us to change the color schemes of whole boulevards with the flick of a switch; increase access for electric vehicle charging; and help us cool a warming Los Angeles by including hardware for shade sails.
That expanded program is what makes this competition, in our view, unique. It offers you, as designers, the chance to produce a streetlight that is informed by our history and points the way to our civic future.
We look forward to seeing your ideas. Thank you for the time, dedication, and inspiration we know you will bring to the task.
Chief Design Officer
Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti