A Monumental Achievement: C3M Power Systems lights up new Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial

The Eisenhower Memorial, located in front of the Department of Education building in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in September.
Published On
Oct 15, 2020

The nation’s capital has a new landmark. The impressive Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial was going to be dedicated on May 8, 2020, V-E Day. Construction was complete; however, the COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary to reschedule to Sept. 17.

The memorial honors the life and accomplishments of the 34th U.S. president, who, in World War II, commanded the Allied Forces for the Normandy invasion to free Europe from Nazi control.

The most visually striking feature of the memorial is a huge, woven, stainless steel tapestry mounted onto multiple monumental stone-clad concrete columns. The tapestry depicts a peaceful Normandy coastline. There are also large bronze sculptures and bas relief stone art.

The memorial additionally includes a visitor center housing a bookstore, National Park Service Ranger contact station, public restrooms and support facilities.

The project owner is the U.S. General Services Administration. The memorial design was by Gehry Partners and AECOM, both based in Los Angeles, with lighting design by L’Observatoire International, New York.

Long before work got under way, C3M Power Systems, Capitol Heights, Md., provided preconstruction services, including design and constructability reviews, budgeting and scheduling, said Chuck Tomasco Jr., senior vice president and general manager for C3M. C3M is a subsidiary of Clark Construction, Bethesda, Md., the project construction manager.

Tomasco said the design required extreme attention to detail to seamlessly integrate the electrical systems into the memorial’s structures. Detailed mock-ups were done to ensure that all electrical components were hidden from public view.

C3M’s work included power distribution, lighting and controls, slab warming, fire alarm systems and HVAC system connections for the park and visitor center. Aldridge Electric, Libertyville, Ill., installed all underground raceways, light pole foundations, historic street lighting poles and traffic signals. More than 50,000 feet of interior and underground raceways, nearly 200,000 feet of wire, and more than 600 lighting fixtures were installed.

Electrical systems were prefabricated when possible to ensure high quality and to streamline field installation.

“Light poles were preassembled with lighting fixtures and wiring. Lighting fixtures were preassembled with brackets and accessories,” said Ian Boyd, C3M electrician foreman and the company’s general foreman for the memorial. “Because of limited ceiling space in the main electrical room, a custom-made, enclosed, overhead wiring trough was provided for power distribution and control systems wiring.”

Components of the communication systems include access control, intrusion detection, closed-circuit television, telecommunications and audio/visual.

Visitor center lighting includes down lights and cove lighting in the bookstore, park service contact station and public restrooms and industrial lighting in support facilities. The lighting system controls lighting on/off based on occupancy.

The visitor center houses the main electrical room, which is the memorial’s nerve center and includes the Schneider Electric main switchgear, control panels for the Notifier fire alarm by Honeywell, Lutron Electronics Inc. lighting control and nVent slab warming systems.

“The exterior lighting is truly the crowning jewel of this project’s electrical systems,” Tomasco said. “It magically transforms the memorial into a dramatically lighted work of art at night. We provided all LED exterior lighting fixtures, including many custom made specifically for this project precisely to the lighting designer’s exacting standards.”

Bega and WE-EF spotlights mounted to Valmont poles provide area lighting and highlight statues and other site features and i2 Systems linear in-ground uplighting highlights featured walls and inscriptions. 

“Lighting Concepts linear uplighting illuminates the stainless steel woven tapestry,” Tomasco continued. “Cole embedded step lighting fixtures and illuminated handrails, light stairwells and ramps and i2Systems linear under-bench-mounted lighting fixtures illuminate the area around benches.”

Additionally, lighting was installed on the Department of Education building exterior and the visitor center. The lighting control system enables dimming adjustment and on/off control based on time of day. All fixtures were meticulously aimed, and dimming levels were finely adjusted to achieve the desired effect.

Installing the lighting and lightning protection systems on the 80-foot-high stone-clad concrete columns and tapestry created safety challenges, which C3M overcame by using articulating aerial boom lifts and fall protection measures. C3M’s safety record included zero lost time and no recordable incidents.

About the Author

Jeff Griffin

Construction Journalist

Jeff Griffin, a construction and tools writer from Oklahoma City, can be reached at up-front@cox.net.

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