Let There Be Light: A Lighting Master Plan for Hollywood


Tag: Architecture & Planning

The light has come to Sunset Boulevard. The Hollywood Partnership, along with the Long Beach-based Lighting Design Alliance, worked together to complete a lighting master plan for the district in 2020.

According to Rich Sarian, Place Enhancement Manager for the Hollywood Partnership, the project considered a wide range of ideas and recommendations to help “illuminate and enhance the district. The Hollywood Partnership’s Place Enhancement Committee prioritized projects to work on in the coming years from this plan.”

Crews installing palm tree up-lights on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, CA

Crews installing the lights on palm trees on Sunset Boulevard in January, 2021. (Photo by Rich Sarian)

The new lighting master plan was designed to vary from street to street, creating a sense of unified yet individual identity on each of the major thoroughfares. Using light and color, the idea is to celebrate and refine the architecture and art in each area, as well as its flora and fauna. LDA performed extensive surveys of the area, measuring horizontal illumination levels on the streets and sidewalks at night. They examined lighting poles, lighting types, opportunities to enhance retail frontage, existing murals, residential and commercial properties.

Out of these assessments and committee prioritization arose one project that was chosen for completion in 2020. And because of that, pandemic or not, Sunset Blvd. is ready for its close-up.

“In the Lighting Master Plan, the Lighting Design Alliance noted that the iconic palms that line Sunset Blvd. are lost at night,” Sarian said. The idea was then raised to illuminate them and radiantly “enhance this world-famous stretch of Hollywood.”

Adding or replacing tree up-lights along the palms was one aspect of establishing a more dynamic and compelling rhythm and sequence of lighting. According to the master plan, lighting for Sunset Boulevard should, appropriately enough, mimic the light cast by the setting sun, “reinforcing what ‘Sunset’ should be.”

Palm trees, with new lights, by the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, CA

New lights have been installed on the palm trees next to the Arclight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. (Photo by Rich Sarian)

After utilizing a competitive Request for Proposal process, the project began, with a permanent lighting project now – brightly – in place. Sarian stressed that the lighting is not just for the holiday season but is designed to highlight the palms gracefully all year long. The lighting will be routinely checked and maintained, he attests, to make sure it will always look its best and be safe. This careful maintenance will “ensure the trees are not constricted and that the lights are always shining their brightest.”

Along with actually getting the lighting in place, the project had to pass through stages that included permitting for the project and making sure that the lighting chosen was safe for both the trees and the environment. From start to finish, the lighting took several months to complete, according to Sarian. Due to the pandemic, installation did not occur until 2021.

“This project is a culmination of the great relationships we have with the Councilmember’s office, Urban Forestry, and the Bureau of Street Lighting. All of us came together for this project to ensure that it is properly installed and will enhance the palms along Sunset Blvd. that deserve their time in the spotlight,” Sarian said.

While challenges were minimal, Sarian stressed the fact that the project couldn’t have taken place at all, much less run as smoothly as it has, without “the help and advice of the aforementioned departments.” Cooperating together to achieve their goal allowed the project to move forward.

And now – let there be light.