March 8, 2024   

Philadelphia’s $2.1M Boathouse Row Lighting Project Shines Anew

The Lighting Practice and Color Kinetics reimagine the iconic banks of the Schuylkill


If you've ever been stuck in evening traffic on Philadelphia's Schuylkill Expressway, you know that it's not a pleasant experience, except for a brief part of the commute when drivers are treated to the stunning view of Boathouse Row. This iconic series of picturesque 19th-century boathouses has been a visual staple of the city since its initial lighting in 1979.

For nearly a year, Boathouse Row was dark while the lighting system and boathouses underwent replacements and upgrades. On Thursday night, the lights were turned back on. The recent enhancements, reported by Channel 6 Action News' Katherine Scott, have not only restored but magnified the allure of this scenic locale.


At the heart of this $2.1 million revitalization is the installation of over 6,400 programmable LED lights, marking a substantial upgrade from the previous lighting system.


Lighting Designer & Agent Dynamics

The new LED lighting system, designed by the Philadelphia-based architectural lighting design firm The Lighting Practice and installed by Eagle Industrial Electric, represents a notable advancement in both efficiency and capability.

In 2023, Jonathan Hoyle, Principal at The Lighting Practice, shared his insights on the significance of the project with Inside Lighting, stating, “The Lighting Practice seeks opportunities to positively impact our communities through lighting design and this project is a great example. The existing lighting has established Boathouse Row as an iconic Philadelphia landmark. The new LED lighting system upgrades will honor and elevate the original design while bringing joy to Philadelphians for years to come."

The project specifications highlight the use of advanced technology by dynamic lighting maker, Color Kinetics, a brand of the global lighting leader, Signify. In a significant transition in 2023, the Color Kinetics brand saw a local change in representation as Signify moved the Color Kinetics line from Penn Lighting to Synergy Electrical Sales, although Inside Lighting was unable to confirm if the new agent is eligible for any commissions on this noteworthy project.

RELATED: Wing-It Wednesday at The Boathouse in Conshy


Technical Overview

The technical aspects of the upgrade are particularly noteworthy. These lights not only reduce energy consumption and maintenance needs but also offer a palette of 16 million color combinations, allowing for an unprecedented level of customization and dynamism in the boathouses' nightly displays.

This flexibility extends to the programming of the lights, which can now be tailor color schemes for special events, holidays, and even the rare Philadelphia Eagles playoff victory, adding a new layer of engagement with the community. The ability to adapt the lighting to various themes and occasions ensures that Boathouse Row remains a vibrant part of Philadelphia's cultural landscape, continually reflecting the city's spirit and energy.

In preparation for the upgrade, the 12 boat clubs that call the row home undertook significant preparatory work, collectively investing $850,000 in building repairs. This preparatory phase was crucial, ensuring that the historic structures were in optimal condition to accommodate the new lighting infrastructure, thereby blending the old with the new in a harmonious manner.


The Boathouse Row project not only illuminates the banks of the Schuylkill River but also highlights the city's ongoing commitment to sustainability, innovation, and cultural preservation. As Boathouse Row continues to glow against the night sky, it stands as a beacon of Philadelphia's rich history and its bright future.