The Coachella Valley has long been home to a cluster of oases in the rocky desert of Southern California. One of these sought out destinations is the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Opened in 2000, the facility, nestled into the Old Hollywood getaway of Indian Wells, has undergone an award-winning renovation – recently having been recognized by the United States Tennis Association as its 2014 Facility of the Year. In addition to designing the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and technology integration systems, Glumac designed the lighting for the interiors and exteriors of the multi-court, multi-stadium facility, combining a modern, efficient lighting system with the existing, retro fixtures that line the exteriors.
“Typically stadium lighting is somewhat predictable. There are a couple of showcase opportunities, but it’s more or less just trying to get people around,” Lighting Designer Brian Hahnlen said. “The fun parts were the landscape lighting, the circulation lighting around the campus and the sports lighting. So we wanted to show a little pizzazz.”
As the host of the BNP Paribas Open, one of the largest tennis events in the world, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden offers plenty of opportunity to show off. With the goal of preserving that Old Hollywood feel while blending in more modern lighting techniques, the lighting team looked to the venue’s natural elements for inspiration.
“There are palm trees everywhere, and we used them as a type of light source,” Hahnlen said. “We up-lit some of them to give you the feel that it’s brighter than it actually is, and from the same location we down-lit the pedestrian pathways. It was a huge improvement.”
Glumac’s lighting team was challenged with not just improving the ambiance of the outdoor venue, but also providing lighting to satisfy the needs of a top-tier sporting event for both audience members and television broadcasts. The ESPN standard for lighting was a major requirement that gave the team a difficult set of constraints with regards to Glumac’s sustainability agenda. When dealing with high-definition broadcasting, the lighting needs to be bright and uniform, which means efficiency can easily be pushed into the back seat.
“The ESPN standard really drives the output level,” Hahnlen said. “The owners of the stadium really wanted at least 100 footcandles horizontal. The ESPN standard starts out with the vertical footcandles and the horizontal kind of blends in to it. So, in getting the ESPN criteria, we ended up with somewhere between 150 and 180 footcandles. Now that sounds absolutely ridiculous from a sustainability stand point, but for HD cameras, you really need that much.”
We made up for the day-to-day use in the controls.
For the sports lighting, we have step-down control so they don’t have to run the lighting systems
non-stop at full blast.
Having to meet standards with such heavy usage requirements required some innovative thinking on the part of the Glumac team. They designed variable controls that not only allow the facility to present their events in a variety of ways, but also tamp down usage during certain low-traffic days to conserve energy.
“It’s zoned and circuited so they can use the light as they need,” Hahnlen said. “So we made up for the day-to-day use in the controls. For the sports lighting, we have step-down control so they don’t have to run the lighting systems non-stop at full blast. For the landscape lighting, the controls were tuned to leave the ambient up-lighting off and the down-lighting at 50 percent when they don’t need it. All of those things are layered into the control system, saving energy that would have otherwise been wasted in a comparable facility.”
Finding inroads to sustainable practices for a facility that requires specific energy outputs was a challenge. But the Indian Wells Tennis Garden now features the tools to maintain energy efficiency, save money, while not sacrificing its well-known standard of excellence.
For more information on lighting design for your project, please contact Jesse Smith, Senior Lighting Designer, Glumac Lighting Studio, via [email protected]