Water Street - CODAworx

Water Street

Submitted by Debra Gilmore

Client: PN Hoffman

Location: Washington, DC, United States

Completion date: 2017

Project Team


Debra Gilmore

Gilmore Lighting Design


PN Hoffman

PN Hoffman


Gilmore was tapped to visually transform utilitarian loading passages between three buildings into an inviting pedestrian experience as part of The Wharf development in Washington, DC. The connecting walkways, called Water Street, use light to link The Wharf’s 10 acres of public space.
Gilmore designed a large-scale custom metal ‘light trough’ mounted directly to various ceiling types. The open-slotted troughs function as ‘string light’ shrouds and produce patterned light at the ceiling plane. Intermittently located pendants offer the primary general illumination, bathing visitors in a warm glow. Sensors and dimmers automatically adjust light levels for day and night.


Included in the Water Street space was an artist-painted mural on one loading bay door, which Gilmore accented with architectural light. Lighting had to solve for wayfinding and security after dark, cohesively link the loading passages to public space, and illuminate the mural.


Hired by the developer, Gilmore worked exclusively with the developer team when the project was in final stages of construction. Using three different sets of building documents, Gilmore analyzed the conditions and through site survey looked for other materiality cues. Open steel elements already on-site inspired the concept of projected patterned light at the ceiling. Schematic illustrations and mock-ups garnered concept approval leading to immediate development of final plans, specifications and construction details.

Additional Information

Water Street is one of several distinct projects within the overall Wharf development. As a collaborator in the effort to introduce tourism, commerce and recreation along the Potomac River and revitalize the historic DC Fish Market, the country’s oldest operating open-air fish market, Gilmore has designed artful light installations to brand the new neighborhood hub as a DC destination.