Intelligent solid-state lighting system relights Philadelphia's Famed Boathouse Row


July 13, 2005

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July 14, 2005 Blown filaments and broken globes aren’t the only casualties of traditional incandescent lighting compared to the coming solid state lighting, and that was never more evident than the recent relighting of Philadelphia's famed Boathouse Row. The new LED-based lighting system replaces the previous 30-year-old incandescent system, and is expected to save the Fairmount Park Commission approximately US$57,000 in annual operating costs.

A popular Philadelphia landmark, Boathouse Row comprises twelve boating clubs in ten, architecturally distinct buildings along a half-mile stretch of the Schuylkill River. Prior to the relighting project, the Fairmount Park Commission was spending more than US$50,000 per year on bulb replacement and US$8,000 per year on energy costs. The new system encompasses more than 12,000 individually controllable nodes of Color Kinetics iColor Flex SL, a flexible, LED-based "string light." Each node is driven by Color Kinetics' Chromasic microchip, allowing for intricate, colorful lighting sequences in addition to simple white light that closely matches the previous incandescent system. The LED-based system also features the benefits of long source life, durability, and reduced energy consumption, which translate to reduced operating costs.

"We knew that LEDs were the optimal light source for the project, based on their energy efficiency, lifetime and controllability, yet Color Kinetics' technology even exceeded our expectations," said Shannon Yott of Pennell & Wiltberger, Inc. (PWI), who co-managed the architectural lighting design and specifications with Troy A. Martin-O'Shia, architectural and lighting designer with Hase & Associates, Ltd. "Not only do we have the ability to cut operational expenses with the LED-based system, we can quickly and easily program customized effects for special occasions, an option that was not possible with the dated, incandescent system."

To showcase the capabilities of the new lighting system, a series of colorful, dynamic light shows were created and programmed by Martin-O'Shia and team for the grand unveiling, in addition to red, white and blue effects for the Fourth of July. The light shows are authored and controlled by Light System Manager, Color Kinetics' Ethernet-based software/hardware solution that facilitates the authoring, management and control of complex installations that may scale to thousands of individually controlled LED nodes.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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