Staying True to Art Décor Character

With its art décor-inspired architecture and many dining, arts and entertainment options, the Tower District just north of downtown Fresno, Calif., is a highly desirable area to live. Unfortunately, affordable housing can be hard to find — putting the district out of reach for many entry-level renters.

But now just to the south — on what previously was an empty and unsightly lot — a new 31-unit live/work development called 541 @ South Tower offers an affordable, stylish alternative for young professionals. Located between the Tower District and downtown Fresno, the development was designed by Marvin Armstrong, Architect and features the art-deco flair seen on many area buildings: curved ornamental elements and geometric designs outlined in what appears to be colorful neon.
 
However, the lighting is actually iLight Plexineon — LED fixtures that offer all the advantages of neon, without the downsides.
 
Echoing the art-deco flair seen on many area buildings, 541 @ South Tower features curved ornamental elements and geometric designs outlined in what appears to be colorful neon — but is really Plexineon.
(iLight Technologies/ LEDinside)
 
The Design Challenge

“Neon lighting is typical of art décor design, but for practical reasons, we didn’t include it in our original design,” says Marvin Armstrong, principal. However, after initial review of the design, the Fresno Housing Authority and TFS Investments, which co-collaborated on the project, expressed their desire to incorporate the look of neon. That’s when Armstrong and his team began looking into alternatives to actual neon.

“When we saw the Plexineon, we said ‘That’s the product we need!’ We could get essentially the same look as neon, but from a more durable product that uses less energy,” Armstrong says.
 
Plexineon illuminates the development's sign as well as the horizontal lines along the tops of the buildings and vertical lines on pilasters at intervals around the façade. 
(iLight Technologies/ LEDinside)


With the product selected, the next question was how much to use to get the desired effect. The design team offered three different options for adorning the development with Plexineon. The option that the housing authority and TFS Investments chose called for illuminating the sign for the development, as well as horizontal lines along the tops of the buildings, and vertical lines on pilasters at intervals around the façade.
 
“The overall effect is really striking. You can see it from the highway. The quality of the light is so strong — the line work is really good, and the brightness and color are just perfect.”
 - Marvin Armstrong, Principal Marvin Armstrong, Architect
 

While offering the same look as neon, Plexineon fixtures use less energy while offering greater durability. (iLight Technologies/ LEDinside)
 

The Plexineon Advantage

Once the amount of light was determined, Armstrong provided detail elevation drawings to iLight, which then supplied shop drawings to help ensure smooth installation.

The final effect is exactly what the design and development team had imagined, with 541 @ South Tower consistent in character with other surrounding architecture. Armstrong says he would “absolutely” use Plexineon again.

“We had never used Plexineon before. It looks terrific,” he says. “The overall effect is really striking. You can see it from the highway. The quality of the light is so strong — the line work is really good, and the brightness and color are just perfect. It doesn’t look overdone; it’s just right.”

The final effect is exactly what the design and development team had imagined.  
(iLight Technologies/ LEDinside)


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