Centre Square “Light Tower,” Philadelphia, USA

Centre Square “Light Tower,” Philadelphia, USA

January 05, 2009

The Centre Square office complex (architects Vincent Kling & Associates) located in the Market West neighborhood of Philadelphia is interesting for several reasons. Dating from the early ‘70s, Centre Square is located in one of the city’s original town squares and across from historic Philadelphia City Hall. The plaza at Centre Square is also well-known for the Claes Oldenburg Clothespin sculpture.

Centre Square is interesting for another reason. It is also home to the largest single color changing light pipe installation in the world – 5,400 linear feet. The installation is impressive to say the least with 144 Martin Alien 02 Spot™ color changing luminaires powering a like number of custom 3M light pipes.

A brighter space
Centre Square consists of two high rise towers connected by a common lobby with domed skylight ceiling. In the four-story lobby is a triangular elevator tower that connects the parking garage levels with the concourse level, ground floor, lower mezzanine and upper mezzanine levels.

REIT Management sought to brighten the space and architect and interior design firm Daroff Design Inc + DDI Architects, PC was called in to develop a concept.

Daroff’s concept to get more illumination into the lobby was to create a dynamic light tower by removing the marble from the elevator tower and installing a Pilkington Planar glass system backlit with color changing light tubes.

Martin Alien 02 Spots power 3M Light Pipe
Used to illuminate the ½” thick translucent white glass is 3M LPS-150 custom 6” Light Pipe with Martin Alien 02 Spot fittings. The Martin Aliens are programmable 150 watt architectural lights with full-range color mixing. The 3M Light Pipe is a modular lighting element that, when coupled with Martin automated color changing fixtures, becomes an intense linear source of light. By using the unique micro-structured 3M Optical Lighting Film, even distribution of light from end to end is possible.

Focal point
The multi-hued light tower has rejuvenated the space. Permeating out the front of the building, the lighting effect is visible from the outside plaza and has opened up the view into the lobby.

“The concept for a translucent white glass backlit light tower was meant to be a focal point in the atrium space and serve as a beacon discernible from the exterior through the new large glass Pilkington entrance wall,” commented Karen Daroff, President of Daroff Design + DDI Architects, PC.

“Martin’s Alien product has the capacity for a wide range of polychromatic lighting shows,” Daroff states. “The client wanted color changing capability instead of just static white. There was an onsite mock-up with other competitors (TIR, Insight, and Color Kinetics) and the client selected Martin.”

Just the right fit
Lighting designer on the project was Clark Johnson of Johnson Light Studio in New York City. He commented, “The architectural core space with the elevator encased in concrete proved very restrictive due to existing escalators. Our critical dimension for the glowing walls behind the escalator was only 20-24 inches, but the Alien was small enough that they overwhelmed the competition. The light pipes have a bright, clean, white light and their diameter was small enough to fit the space.

“Martin US was great with mock ups and support and really pulled through with a fine product. Through their diligence and desire to get this project, and their service and programming capabilities, they really sold it.”

The color changing light pipe system can be easily manipulated on site via a Martin Maxxyz PC™ control system, a Windows-compatible version of Martin’s Maxxyz lighting console. Programmer Eric Wade was brought in to work with the client to establish light shows for holidays and special events. The system is also connected to the network and changes can be made ‘on the fly’ by authorized remote users.

Client: REIT Management

Architect, Interior Designers: Daroff Design + DDI Architects, PC
- Karen Daroff, President
- Marty Komitzky, Design Director
- Robert Hilton, Project Manager
- Chris Reed, Project Architect

Lighting Designer: Clark Johnson, Johnson Light Studio

Lighting Programmer: Eric Wade

Construction Management: IMC Construction

Electrical Contractor, installation: New Light Electric

Distributor: Colonial Electric

Control system design, custom parts,
assemblies and system integration: Bruno Silva

144 x Martin Alien 02 Spot™
144 x 3M LPS-150 custom 6” Light Pipe
144 x Martin Alien 02/LPS-150 adapter
1 x Martin Maxxyz PC™ with MPC manager
1 x Rackmount computer system
4 x Martin RS-485 optosplitter