Driving downtown at night just got a whole lot brighter.
This week, LED lights were installed in the newly renovated “trellis towers” on Douglas between Topeka and Main streets.
It’s the latest development in a multi-year effort to beautify Douglas streetscapes from Washington to Main Street, an initiative which has also included the addition of planters and curb bump-outs to reduce pedestrian crossing distances.
“The whole intent of everything we’re doing along Douglas is to create a more pedestrian-friendly space,” said Jeff Best, director of landscape architecture at LK Architecture. He’s been leading the Douglas streetscape project since at least 2013.
The “trellis towers” were originally installed in 1997, according to Best, with the intent of allowing vines to grow up alongside them.
That part of the project never materialized, according to Jason Gregory, executive vice president of Downtown Wichita. So the teal-green metal towers remained until they were painted black by the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation about five years ago, Gregory said.
Earlier this week, translucent panels were installed on all four sides of the pillars, and LED lights were installed inside the pyramidal tops of the towers.
The pillars have the capability to change colors, based on the city’s discretion, according to Best.
“They look really good – we repainted them again and they look really sharp,” Gregory said. “They were already there – it was finding a way that we could just enhance those so that, instead of blending into the background of the street, now they pop, especially at night.”
The timing of the pillars’ completion coincides with changing out the plants in the sidewalk planters to fall/winter varieties, Gregory said.
“It’s a pretty simple alteration to something that was already there that I think has a pretty good impact now,” Best said.