This story was originally published in Architectural Lighting.

Alex Jeffries Photography

The Constellation is a monumental public artwork that functions as the centerpiece of The Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi, a permanent national tribute to the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The lighting team at dpa Lighting Consultants was invited to illuminate the artwork that was conceptualized and designed by Boston area artist Ralph Helmick, whose work explores human perception through optical discovery.

Alex Jeffries Photography

The lighting designers teamed with the artist for a series of mock-ups, in Boston and on site, to determine how the lighting could reveal the artwork from multiple viewing angles, while retaining the nuanced depth of field of the sculpture, which is composed of more than 1,300 convex polyhedrons (of different sizes) suspended from more than 1,000 tensioned cables. To achieve the three-dimensional rendering of the Sheikh’s profile embedded within the artwork, 753 downlights and 1,203 uplights–all custom-designed and using 3.5W warm-white LEDs and integral DMX control–were used to light the sculpture. The celestial-like quality of the individual elements and the artwork as whole and fully illuminated evokes a sense of timelessness as it honors Sheikh Zayed and his vision for the UAE.

Alex Jeffries Photography
Alex Jeffries Photography
Alex Jeffries Photography

Jury Comments:
An amazing application of light. • Technically impressive the way the profile is revealed with the lighting. • The scale and coordination of the lighting elements is impressive.

Project: The Constellation, The Founder’s Memorial, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Client: Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Artist: Ralph Helmick, Newton, Mass.
Lighting Designer: dpa Lighting Consultants, Dubai, UAE
Team Members: Barry Hannaford, David McNeil, Lee Sweetman
Photographers: Alex Jeffries Photography Group
Project Size: 5,871 square meters (63,195 square feet)
Project Cost: Confidential
Lighting Costs: Confidential
Watts per Square Foot: 0.5 (including landscape lighting)
Code Compliance: Complies with Estidama
Manufacturer: Lumascape

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