Having originally opened the facility in 2000 with a halogen-based fa_ade, the venue's owners were inspired to rethink the lighting system by increasing concerns about energy supply and consumption. Vortex Lighting's Anne Militello - who played a pivotal role in the original installation - was asked to devise a new solution, which she soon realised could both enhance the overall visual impact and reduce energy costs by as much as 90%.
Following an extensive period of assessment, Militello opted to use Coemar ParLite LEDs with altered back-plates to provide the higher IP66 rating for outdoor use. Ultimately, Militello replaced 168 of the existing 600W fixtures with 36W fixtures. In addition, a number of extra units were purchased to achieve a wider overall spread of light.
The lighting is triggered daily from a time clock using two Pharos devices, distributed in the US by ETC; these were programmed by Ryan O'Gara with an ETC Expression DMX controller (which would talk directly to the Coemar DMX fixtures). The show activates at dusk and powers off at 2am. Images ranging from abstracts of birds and individuals to "moving paintings" are fed into the Pharos, with different shows playing every night of the week.
The installation was managed by Ryder Construction in conjunction with equipment supplier PRG.
"The New Yorker magazine has named it one of the most important pieces of architecture in the past 40 years, and for me it has just been the most unbelievable experience," said Militello. "When I get off the subway at Times Square it feels like coming home. Nightclubs and live shows come and go but this gives so many people pleasure. I'm just happy it has contributed to the landscape."