Jim Conti let us behind the Beacon (I so did not type that) a bit.
Click for many more pictures and the inside story...
Because the park was designed to be a park for all seasons, the LED program reflects that. Currently, there are four programs, one for each season. However, this is no ESB garishness: the colors are subtle and intended to compliment the atmosphere of each season. For the fall, he chose the unique colors of the horizon and sky this time of year: a bluish-white, a deeper indigo, a pinkish magenta, and a teal-ish color.
There is a 20 second cycle for each color, and the fade is barely perceptable. If you continuously look at the Beacon, it is difficult to tell when each color changes. You'll notice that all of the Beacons you see in this post have different colors. And witness, the first Tropolism movie! (Quicktime format)
Another aspect of the Beacon lighting that sets it apart from other lighting specatcles in this town is that it is directional. Each of the four glass faces of the Beacon are very different; so each of the four colors in the program light only one side at a time, creating a gorgeous mixing effect at the corners and viewing the two colors through the beacon. The beacon again feels as if it in motion, even when the color appears to be static.
Jim is still tweaking spring and summer, and wouldn't dip into winter's choices. He also mentioned that the holidays may have some special surprises, but plans were still being programmed.
One of the touches I appreciate is the fact that they used a clear protective lens on the light fixture, instead of the standard frosted lens. The choice was made to expose the workings of this creature, not to conceal it, and that choice extended to the ability to see the LED pixels. The effect is a subtle glitter when seeing the beacon, even from afar.
As lighting becomes digital, color is controllable to the exact wavelength, LED fixtures become durable, low-maintenance, easy to program, and the power consumption continues to drop due to the efficiencies of LEDS, new opportunities like 55 Water Street's Beacon emerge. What is special about the Beacon is the opportunity to be in this special light, to be in the quiet park at night, looking at Brooklyn through the trees.
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