27 OF September 2018 Bringing a Childhood Icon to Light

It’s tough to miss the giant “little” red wagon sitting outside Radio Flyer’s front headquarters entrance. 


At Radio Flyer, the color red and wagons are at the core of its 100-year-old heritage. So, it’s only fitting a recent refresh to the Chicago headquarters included a new façade that highlights this iconic toy that made the Radio Flyer brand a household name a century ago.


The building, once a traditional, brick-clad manufacturing warehouse on West Grand Avenue, now welcomes visitors from across the world into the whimsical world of wagons, scooters, trikes, bikes and ride-ons with a new, shiny modern façade. It’s one that shines brightly, thanks to carefully crafted dynamic lighting schemes that illuminate the headquarters, both day and night.


The revived entrance looks nothing like its predecessor. Company officials decided the brick façade didn’t convey the company’s energetic and free-spirited work environment. It was too industrial. It didn’t sparkle with Radio Flyer’s energetic and whimsical spirit.


Enter JR Lighting Design of Tinley Park, Illinois. The lighting experts joined Gensler Architects, general contractor Leopardo Construction and electrical contractor Grand Kahn Electric to start work in July 2016.


The firm’s president Jason Reberski and systems integration manager Justin Litterio stepped up to light the 167’ wide by 30’ foot tall façade wall. Radio Flyer wanted the tube-steel-frame and channel-glass wall to create a dynamic, colorful entrance experience into the company’s welcome area. 


The considerations 

Radio Flyer officials wanted lighting available to this entrance during both normal operating hours and into the night, for the better part of 24 hours, so JR Lighting worked with Los Angeles-based Acclaim Lighting to specify products at the outset of the job. The designers decided to add programmable, color LED lighting to backlight the glass, based on the client’s vision.


“The client requested that the lighting be viewable during the morning and daytime hours on an east-facing wall that is made primarily of glass,” Reberski noted. “Any element of the lighting system needed to be able to withstand the harsh conditions an outdoor permanent installation faces in Chicago’s winter and summer months.”


As such, all lighting instruments required an ingress-protection rating of at least IP65. The fixtures also had to be capable of performing in a long-duty-cycle application, while creating enough light to adequately illuminate frosted glass during daylight hours. The system also needed to be self-sustaining and self-programmable so there would be little staff interaction to operate and maintain lighting effects. 


Most important, the batch of fixtures needed to color-match as much as possible. The system covers one large surface, so it needed to be illuminated evenly and show no signs of color variation.

One company had a product line comprehensive enough to satisfy Radio Flyer’s specific order: Acclaim Lighting and its family of LED lighting and control solutions. JR Lighting Design selected Acclaim’s workhorse Dyna Drum HO and Dyna Flood QA fixtures for the job because of their high lumen output with rich colors and a high IP rating.


“Painting” the HQ red and white

The installed Dyna Drum HO custom RBG+R LED flood fixtures with white-paint housing is a high-output, outdoor-rated, LED flood fixture. Acclaim worked with JR Lighting Design to custom populate the Dyna Drum HO color fixtures with a double set of red LEDs. This approach ensures the building has maximum intensity in the Radio Flyer signature color, when required.


Color temperatures includes RGBW, RGBA, 2700K, 3000K, 3500K, 4000K, 5500K, DW (2400K-5500L), Beam Angle 6º (standard, 20º, 40º, 60º spread lens options Total Lumens 10,103 at 5500K, 6º / 7378 at RGBW, 6º Center Beam Candela 471,104 at 5500K, 6º / 305,532 at RGBW 6º Control DMX-512, 4 channels (color), 2 Channels (DW), or 1 Channel (white).


“The most important part was that the batch of installed fixtures color match as much as possible because the façade system as a whole was one large surface that needed to be illuminated evenly and show no signs of color variation,” Reberski said. “Acclaim’s ability to ensure a near-perfect color match across fixtures as a key component in selecting this product.”


These fixtures feature an adjustable yoke, on-board digital display, a 100-277VAC internal power supply, and a built-in receiver for Acclaim’s new Aria wireless DMX transceiver.


This compact, local, outdoor-rated wireless DMX transceiver acts as both a sending and receiving point. Users can select up to 15 channels on the 2.4GHZ band. An internal, wireless radio features both automatic networking and signal routing optimization. This ensures the best possible DMX data reception. 


The ARIA system includes a 5 dB, omni-directional antenna to provide transmission up to 2,600 foot line of sight and 300 foot between obstructions and walls. This installation represented the ARIA Wireless DMX technology’s first commercial use.


“It’s performing flawlessly,” Litterio said of the Aria system.


To showcase the giant, iconic wagon, lighting designers installed all-white Dyna Flood QA fixtures. This high-power, LED flood unit features an auto-switching, multi-voltage power supply and an on-board, touch-sensitive menu. 


It offers the perfect solution for dynamically illuminating monuments, such as the headquarters’ immense Radio Flyer. Dyna Flood QA fixtures also work well with landscape lighting, facades and structures.


“The output is tremendous,” Reberski noted.


The entire installation also included Acclaim’s RDS, 6-way DMX + RDM splitter and optimizer. The unit features one RDM/DMX input and six outputs, providing flexible configuration of the RDM/DMX signal. Each port is isolated electrically to ensure a maximum total run of 3,900 foot for each signal line.


JR Lighting Design also specified the Interactive Technologies CueServer 2 DIN, a unique, Ethernet-based lighting-control solution in a single, easy-to-use package. It can seamlessly blend standalone architectural and show-control functions to produce elaborate, customized playback. 


It simultaneously manages entertainment-style lighting playback and sophisticated architectural control. Other features include networked button stations, LCD touchscreens and mobile-device apps.


Spectacular color display


Before starting the project, JR Lighting Design had field tested numerous lighting systems. Acclaim stood out in all tests.


“Acclaim literally outshone all of its competitors,” Litterio said. “The focus we received from Acclaim and its product development and management teams sealed the deal for us because we not only were able to provide superb product, but we also were able to provide the support behind it.”


The lighting project took nearly a year to complete, with revisions, systems modifications and programming continuing through March 2017. The construction team wrapped up the entire renovation in July.


All can agree: The new lighting scheme “reads” well during the day and looks spectacular at night. The flexibility in fixture placement, quantity and capabilities ensures the systems can provide a variety of dynamic lighting effects now and well into the future.