The Lantern LED Tower Brings Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Architecture into the 21st Century

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The centerpiece of Ottawa’s National Arts Centre rejuvenation is a 50-foot high transparent LED media facade customized and designed by ClearLED. Launched in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, this new landmark beacon is 80 percent transparent with 8,000 nits maximum brightness, allowing natural light to filter through while displaying distinct content during daylight and nighttime. Built with four additional 32-foot-high transparent LED light blades, content displayed can be coordinated to create uniquely aesthetic digital experiences.

Nominating Company: ClearLED, Vancouver, Canada
Venue: National Arts Centre, Ottawa, Canada
Project: National Arts Centre Rejuvenation
Category: Public Spaces

BACKGROUND
The National Arts Centre in Ottawa (NAC) is a Canadian landmark. Conceived in 1967, Canada’s Centennial year, NAC is the premier showcase for the very best performing arts in the country.

In anticipation of Canada’s 150th celebration in 2017, the NAC launched a rejuvenation project. The goal of the project was to establish a marquee tower (named “The Lantern”) that extends the geometry of the original architecture into the 21st century, establishing new transparency and connection with the city.

The 50-foot high lantern tower, utilizing ClearLED video wall displays, creates a new memorable experience that positively connects and impacts members of the public.

The ClearLED transparent displays were built to be visible to the thousands of visitors to Canada’s capital. These landmark displays will become a new canvas for digital artists from Canada and around the world to showcase their work and promote Canada’s appreciation for rich and diverse culture.

CHALLENGES
The architecture of the new National Arts Centre building is uniquely shaped as a giant lantern. To light up the space, ClearLED was challenged with designing custom screens to fit the space precisely and deliver the maximum transparency and brightness. An additional hurdle was to ensure the components were lightweight, sturdy and accessible for maintenance. The four blades had to be waterproof and withstand cold and wet Ottawa weather conditions.

The unveiling of the new National Arts Centre played an important role in Canada’s 150-anniversary celebrations and became a global spotlight. Although ClearLED started the project well in advance of the deadline, pressure to finish on time escalated as July 1, 2017 approached, and all work crews on the project were working simultaneously, often in the same confined areas. Additionally, security on the premises was strictly enforced, making access to the facility a challenge without planning ahead.

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SOLUTIONS
Planning was critical to success, and the project was started a year prior to launch. ClearLED formed a dedicated project team: project manager, creative designer, technical engineer and installation lead. The project required multiple face-to-face meetings in Ottawa with our client and careful oversight of the display build at ClearLED’s factory in China.
More than 400 LED panels were customized and designed to fit each section of the glass building, with over 13 uniquely customized model types. All panels were individually fit and quality-tested to mitigate problems during installation. ClearLED selected high-quality Nichia LEDs to ensure long-lasting light hours and to endure Ottawa’s weather conditions.

The project and installation team were well-prepared in advance with security clearance. Materials were shipped and cleared customs early. During the installation period, the team resided in Ottawa and maintained continuous contact with our client to schedule access and minimize clashes with other trades.

RESULTS
The installation was launched on schedule to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary and attracted national media coverage. The celebrations were attended by more than 350,000 visitors who were able to view the stunning lantern display as an icon of Canada’s rich culture.

Since then, the National Arts Centre has been using this new permanent installation to show off its spirit and community support. E.g., during October, screens were designed to support World Mental Health Day, and this support has been noticed and captured on multiple social media platforms.

The National Arts Centre is planning to use its ClearLED installation for the countdown to 2018 on New Year’s Eve. Again, this will be exposed across TV channels to millions.

The ClearLED installation is a memorable showpiece that will be viewed by Ottawa residents and visitors to the capital—up to 5M* per annum.

* Source: Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport

PROJECT PARTNERS
Capello Systems
Aspyr
Cleland Jardine Engineering Ltd.
10net Managed Solutions Ltd.

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