Penman’s Dam Illumination

General Info

About the Project

Project Description

Ending a 40 year stint in darkness, the iconic dam has received a lighting upgrade to pay homage to its role in the city’s history. Built in 1918 by Penman’s Limited Clothing Company to provide waterpower to operate the company’s mill, the Grand River dam’s original floodlights of the ‘60s had been removed due to complaints of excessive light pollution. MBL introduced 6deg optics and the use of full snoots in order to carefully focus light on its intended target. The project intertwines 21st century and 18th century technology through the use of pre-programmed dynamic effects and colour schemes that are triggered to change based on the system’s internal clock and are also able to be controlled via a computer program or app.


Lighting Design

Final Budget


Primary Sector

Civic, Education, Recreation, Cultural & Community

Attractions & Entertainment

Public Realm

Secondary Sector



County of Brant


Project Team

Staff Members

Alan McIntosh


Using online mapping technology, advanced simulation software and extensive analytics, the team spent more than a year rigorously prototyping a new LED design concept. The following year was spent testing the technology, on-site and at remote airstrip locations in order to mimic the real-world application, ensuring the landmark’s natural beauty would be enhanced. Housed in heated bunkers, 1,400 RGBW LED modules distributed over 100 lighting panels generate light beams that appear in continuous streams, amplifying the crest of the Falls. 350 separate control zones with full colour-mixing capability were established, enabling a more seamless coordination of lighting displays, programmable lighting opportunities and a greater overall command of the illumination system. For the first time, the integration of custom user interfaces offers the ability to schedule lighting events to sync with surrounding events, festivals and public attractions. The environmentally accountable LED design even helped reduce the Falls’ energy output by 60-80%. This design is maintenance-free and designed to last for 25 years – a significant leap from the previous lamps’ lifespan of 1,900 hours.
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