When construction was completed on the Empire State Building (ESB) in 1931 it cost $25.6 million—that’s just $9.20 per square foot. You can’t even build a single floor for that nowadays, much less a 1,454-foot tall skyscraper (adjusting for inflation, the ESB would cost $352 million today). Though the building hosts events and tour groups, most of us only see it from the outside and don’t realize that the reason it’s known as the World’s Most Famous Office Building is because tenants occupy the vast majority of its 102 floors. And like any other office building, lighting consumes the majority of its electrical costs—a whopping 39 percent.
In order to meet their stringent return-on-investment requirements, Anthony Malkin, President of Malkin Holdings, which owns the ESB, and Jones Lang LaSalle, an energy and sustainability consultancy, commissioned Lutron to supply pre-built tenant spaces throughout the building with sustainable lighting control solutions as part of the Clinton Climate Initiative Building Retrofit program aimed at improving efficiency and financial performance. The building-wide retrofit is projected to provide a total lighting energy savings of up to 65 percent and a reduced installed payback period of just 2.75 years. Overall, the Lutron system will reduce energy use by 38 percent and energy bills by $4.4 million per year. Moreover, the upgrade will prevent an estimated 105,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the next 15 years.
Video rendering of the Bay Lights (courtesy TBL)
“What if the West Span [of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge] wasn’t a bridge and instead were a canvas?” asked Ben Davis, founder of creative agency Words Pictures Ideas and man behind the The Bay Lights (TBL) some time ago. That question soon became the foundation for San Francisco’s latest high-tech public art project that’s got even Silicon Valley abuzz. With the support of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and major Silicon Valley bigwigs, TBL is planning to put up an ethereal light show 1.5 miles wide and 230 feet high covering the west span of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge.
Perched on the rooftop of a parking garage in Lower Manhattan a few blocks from the World Trade Center site, two groups of 44 light cannons pointing skyward will soon project high-intensity beams of light into the night sky for Tribute in Light, marking the tenth anniversary of the 911 World Trade Center attacks. Last week, as a crew of 30 workers was positioning the lights and laying cable to a large generator on the sidewalk, we stopped by to learn more what’s involved with the massive display.
With the High Line getting the lion’s share of attention lately, Hudson River Park feels more neighborhoody then ever. Last night’s opening of public art installation by artist/performer Jon Morris of Windmill Factory felt pretty down home with everyone sprawling out on the grass around Morris, who explained the inspiration for his light show which sits out in the water.
Growing up in Beria, Kentucky, Morris could see the stars, but in New York light pollution made the experience impossible. His idea was to sprinkle a little stardust onto the Hudson in the form of solar powered LEDs attached to the tops of pilings from a long departed pier.
Safer at night. Two design students at Carnegie Mellon University created a functional and graceful lighting system for bikers that enhances side visibility at night. The LED lights that line the wheel rims, are powered by pedaling and change colors depending on speed. Bloggers at Greater Greater Washington have posted a video of the lights in action.
Convenient Cities. What makes a city “convenient”? According to a study published by The Street, factors include walkability, public transportation, and amenity proximity. Their city ranking, using data from Walk Score, Zillow and APTA, put Boston, New York, Denver, Portland, and Chicago at the top.
Olympic Pollution. A documentary by filmmaker Faisal Abdu’Allah, Double Pendulum, examines the harmful effects of pollution on East London residents and athletes, The Guardian says. Abdu’Allah cautions that poor air quality in East London may threaten athletes’ performances in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Designer Chocolates. PSFK reports that researchers in a joint program between the University of Exeter, the University of Brunel, and Delam, a software developer, have created a printer that turns 3D CAD designs into ready-made chocolates. An upcoming retail site will allow the public to upload original designs.
Italian lighting design firm Foscarini filled their Greene Street showroom with a dynamic, winding installation called Foscarini Evolution during ICFF week in New York. Artist Marc Sadler composed the installation of individual Tress lamps–made of resin-coated fabric strips–connected end to end. The pulsing red strands created a distinctly interactive experience.
“The installation shows how light can convey emotion and form space,” said Veronica Carniello of Foscarini. The showroom will now undergo a renovation and open again at the end of the year. Carniello said the company plans to feature rotating installations featuring Foscarini lighting products so the showroom will take on the qualities of an art gallery.
The scene at Ingo Maurer was a tad more subdued than the rest of Green Street last Monday night. Could it be because Maurer’s work has a such tactile quality that the space feels more like an art gallery? Showroom hoppers didn’t make an immediate bee line to the bar. How could you when the first thing you see on entering is the arresting vision of “Spirits Flying High”. The undulating sheet of light looks a flying carpet about to blow out the door. On closer inspection the 87 inch by 50 inch hanging light fixture is composed of more than 100 LED strips wrapped in a warm milky colored silicon. Don’t ask, the special commission piece is not for sale.
Genesy held court in its own VIP area at Artemide’s Monday evening cocktail party. Posed behind red velvet ropes, the floor lamp’s sensuous lines appeared anthropomorphic, with a waist as svelte as that of any Hollywood starlet. Designed by Zaha Hadid, the injection molded polyurethane lamp–featuring direct LED light and indirect (halogen or fluorescent) light–is newly available in the US in polished black or polished white.
Upon first stumbling across this massive array of 2,000 LED lights encased in standard light bulbs in Madison Square Park a few weeks ago, I thought holiday decoration had come a little early to the Flatiron’s front yard, but as shadowed figures began moving across the field of light, it became apparent that this installation by artist Jim Campbell was something special.
Europe’s ban on incandescent light bulbs went into effect today. A New York Times report filed yesterday from Brussels brought home the air of ambivalence that has accompanied the prohibition, relating tales of some Europeans jumping eagerly on the compact fluorescent (CFL) bandwagon, others racing out to stockpile the old bulbs before retailers run out, and still others wondering, “Why are we switching?” The european ban can be seen as a bellwether for a similar phasing out that will begin to take place here in the U.S. in 2012, which I wrote about in the editorial for our 2008 Lighting Issue. Just to recap, while there is no argument in terms of the energy savings that incandescent replacement technologies such as CFLs offer, they do come with their own problems: they cost more, come with embedded electronics, contain mercury, and, most important for designers, they do not render color as well. And, let’s not forget, in certain places incandescent light bulbs’ inefficiency is a boon.