As Nashville has grown more diverse so has the choice in ethnic restaurants and entertainment establishments. Plaza Mariachi, a unique Latin culture destination that caters to the city’s rapidly growing Hispanic community, is an excellent example of the trend.
Formerly a supermarket, the 60,000-square-foot space was imaginatively converted to the themed, multi-use facility it is today with art, music, entertainment, food and retail all under one roof. Decorated as an outdoor Mexican town square, with traditional marketplace “streets” and ornate storefronts, independent lighting design company Ardee Design Group (ADG) of Nashville was contacted to relight the space and chose to use Elation Professional dynamic ellipsoidal, Par and moving lights to do it.
“The Plaza Mariachi project is a unique mix of entertainment techniques in an architectural application, and we utilised quite a bit of Elation equipment to achieve our goals,” said Richard Davis, President and Senior Designer at ADG, the 30-year design collaborative that combines years of experience in entertainment lighting with a practical knowledge of architectural lighting techniques. ADG came on board after the project was well into the construction phase. “The old space was lit warehouse style with harsh fluorescent lighting,” Davies explains. “We treated it as a theatrical immersion and used dynamic lighting and more natural light schemes to light the beautiful storefront facades and enhance the themed environment.”
Plaza Mariachi is not your typical shopping or eating experience and Davis says you’d be hard pressed to find something like it outside of Disney. “A themer from Epcot was brought in,” he says. “The non-stop live music, the streets and shops all factor into the AVL experience. It’s comfortable and fun and is definitely a family friendly environment.”
The Plaza’s main courtyard and five streets, each storefront with a themed, theatre-like façade, all required illumination. ADG uses colour, contrast and lighting effects to enhance the space, focus attention and create a visually stimulating environment. The facades have been lit using Elation’s WW Profile™ warm-white ellipsoidal spot fixture. Powered by a 130W warm-white 3,000K LED engine, it projects a soft and flat field of white light (CRI is over 94) and is ideal for emphasising scenery and facades. It also supports gobos for custom projections and includes a 4-blade framing system for control of the beam shape. “We used the WW Profiles to project natural light onto the facades and textured the buildings with leaf breakup patterns and dichroic filters to have the facades come to life,” Davis said. “The WW Profiles worked beautifully for this and is the workhorse of the effect lighting.”
Also used to light the storefront facades, as well as several fountains, are Elation SixPar 100™ and SixPar 200™ LED color changers with barndoor kits, the 200 version used to light larger facades. The SixPar fixtures house a 6-color RGBWA+UV LED multi-chip and give a large variety of colour choice. Easy to power and data link, they consume little power and require little to no maintenance. “The SixPars add festivity to the space,” Davis comments. “We can theme the entire plaza for a certain occasion, for example Cinco de Mayo, Halloween or Christmas, and can go from white light to festive colour at the push of a button.”
While guests browse the storefronts, live music fills a common area with food court and performance stage. Each night sees a variety of entertainment from Latin bands to big screen viewing parties to special events. On stage, a full LED video wall with accompanying lighting rig of Elation Platinum Spot LED II™ and Rayzor Q12 LED™ moving head luminaires keeps the atmosphere energetic and fresh. The efficient LED-based luminaires are used to splay color and effect across the space and are powerful enough to cut through ambient light from overhead skylights. An Elation-distributed HedgeHog 4 lighting console controls the lighting on stage. Networked into a master ETC Paradigm controller, the HedgeHog console was structured on an Ethernet network, which enables it to be moved anywhere in the venue.
The dynamic lighting system is used all day, starting with an early morning day look through to a full-themed lighting environment after dark. Despite the many hours of operation, Davis says a goal with the project was to maintain the energy usage ratio of the building, a goal they meet with the LED lighting and other low-power luminaires used throughout.
Plaza Mariachi has proved a hit since opening in June 2017 and the great deal of care gone into creating the environment, including the lighting, is getting rave reviews from locals and tourists alike.