Historic tower looks better and brighter
Boston's first official skyscraper, the Marriott Custom House Tower, underwent a long-awaited lighting makeover in 2008 to reclaim its skyline prominence in a smart and sustainable way.
Unveiled as a part of illuminaleBOSTON 08 — a five-day, citywide lighting festival — the design team wanted to replace the Tower's existing lighting system with energy efficient LED technology, while closely matching the desired look of the former warm-white incandescent sources.
Why was an LED system chosen vs. conventional light sources? The design team chose Color Kinetics LED-based lighting fixtures because they consume less energy and require far less maintenance with an estimated lifetime of more than 20 years at six hours of use per day. This is particularly important given the difficult-to-access location of the fixtures.
How Did They Do It?
The Tower's lighting scheme was conceptualized by Lam Partners Inc., who had also designed the former lighting treatment 20 years ago. Formerly lit by halogen-based PAR 38 spotlights, the majority of which had fallen into disrepair, the Tower was restored to its fully-illuminated state using LED fixtures that consume just one third the energy of the previous sources.
Approximately 125 Color Kinetics LED luminaires were used to illuminate the Tower from the 17th floor to its peak. The design team chose eW Blast Powercore, a compact floodlight with a warm color temperature of 2700 K and frosted lens, to illuminate the Tower's pyramidal crown, observation deck, and upper cornice highlights. The same luminaire with a clear lens was used for the clock facing lighting and the upper colonnade, where extended light projection was required. Additional architectural details were illuminated by eW Graze Powercore, a slim, linear fixture that accommodates tight niches. The 4-foot model was used in a color temperature of 2700 K.
The LED luminaires essentially replaced the former fixtures one-for-one in their existing locations and mountings. Because they incorporate Color Kinetics' proprietary Powercore technology, they directly accept line voltage, which eliminated the need for remote transformers and special cabling.
The luminaires are controlled via the building's existing management system, which can be programmed to turn the exterior lighting on and off at any pre selected time.
The Marriott Custom House Tower is now both a historic landmark and a symbol of sustainable urban lighting design.