Project details

Project type: Sports + Entertainment, Arts + Culture
Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Client: Wildlife Conservation Society
Lighting Design: Focus Lighting
Designer: The Portico Group
Architect: ESKW Architects
Photographer: Ryan Fischer


Lumenpulse Lumenbeam luminaires help create a realistic undersea experience for the New York Aquarium's Ocean Wonders: Shark! exhibit.

The tunability and installation ease of the Lumenbeam fixtures were integral to the success of this project. The ability to fine tune the colors has allowed us to create a realistic undersea environment.

Christine Hope
Focus Lighting

Ocean Wonders: Sharks!

Of all the many extraordinary animals on the planet, none other than the shark has captivated our combined imagination, wonder, and horror with such fervor. The New York Aquarium's Ocean Wonders: Shark! exhibit aims to promote conservation and to create an educational environment to help people better understand sharks and their role in the ecosystem.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which manages the New York Aquarium, built a 57,000ft2, three-story exhibit building neighboring on the Coney Island boardwalk which has been turned into an immersive, or submersive atmosphere that simulates an oceanic deep-dive. To help make this emersion as authentic as possible for both the sharks and guests, lighting designers, Focus Lighting, used Lumenpulse Lumenbeam luminaires to entice and create a sense of awe as well as to mimic sunlight in the various tanks.

"Our lighting throughout is designed to help present the natural beauty each experience is meant to evoke and create the feeling of complete immersion," explains principal lighting designer Brett Andersen at Focus Lighting. "To accomplish this, our team worked closely with WCS to understand the natural lighting that occurs in the exhibit's recreated environments, allowing the team to replicate each with artificial light sources."

The sun-streamed first tank is a colorful tunnel surrounded by a coral reef. The color quality of the Lumenbeam Medium RGBW luminaires are finely tuned to an exact degree to mimic natural light and to make the coral stand out. The luminaires are mounted on a movable truss above the "Coral Reef" tank and aimed directly into the water to brightly mimic the shallower depths where coral can be found.

The lighting design creates a transitioning mood from tank to tank. The second large tank area, known as the "New York Bight," represents a more profound ocean depth.  Carefully tuned RGBW Lumenpulse Lumenbeam Large luminaires, are mounted on a custom structure above the tank and are aimed towards the whitewashed ceiling, which reflects the light downwards, creating a gentle, uniform emerald glow that filters through the 60-80ft of water.

The lighting design of the exhibit's final tank, the "Canyon's Edge," which houses the deep ocean sharks, provides a more foreboding feel than the other tanks. A few Lumenbeam Medium Cool White luminaires with Very Narrow Spot 6° optics are mounted to deliver shafts of "sunlight" to the sandy ocean floor that runs along the front of the tank. The deeper area behind this projection is flooded with Lumenbeam Large luminaires, with Blue LEDs and Flood 40° optics to create a murky ambiance that curtains the visibility of the sharks, allowing them only to become fully visible once they are within the stronger project of light at the front of the tank. The overall effect not only mimics the deep ocean but also provides visitors with the awe of a big reveal as the sharks swim closer to the glass.

The Lumenbeam luminaires are controlled using DMX/RDM, which, along with their sturdy, IP66-rated construction, their corrosion and salt spray resistance, and their lumen maintenance of 120,000 hours (L70 at 77 °F) make them the perfect luminaire for such an adventurous task. The ability of these luminaires to create a quality of light akin to the shark's natural environment has helped Focus Lighting create an enchanting visitor's experience that is otherworldly while simultaneously respecting and celebrating a fascinating creature.

7 x Lumenbeam Medium (4000K, Very Narrow 6°)
7 x Lumenbeam Medium (4000K, Narrow Spot 10°)
7 x Lumenbeam Medium (4000K, Narrow Flood 20°)
16 x Lumenbeam Medium (RGBW, Very Narrow Spot 6°)
1 x Lumenbeam Medium (Blue, Flood 40°)
8 x Lumenbeam Large (Blue, Flood 40°)
24 x Lumenbeam Large (4000K, Very Narrow Spot 6°)
12 x Lumenbeam Large (4000K, Flood 40°)
21 x Lumenbeam Grande (RGBW, Wide Flood 60°)

Applications Used

Related products

Related Projects