When is an office building much more than just an office building? When it’s the symbol of an entire city. New York has the Empire State Building. Chicago has the Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower). And here in Miami, we have Miami Tower, otherwise known as ‘the building that lights up at night.’
Miami Tower has been illuminating the downtown skyline for 25 years, dating back to its completion in 1987. Since then, the 42-story IM Pei-designed building has stood as an emblem of Miami’s vibrancy and electric flair, with its three-tiered light display visible from miles away. It has made cameos during the Super Bowl broadcast, the Miami Vice opening credits, and a Glorida Estefan music video.
The little-known story behind the building’s former exterior lighting scheme is that splashing the tower’s facade with a flood of light night after night after night was extremely costly, energy inefficient, and cumbersome. The process required 12 man hours to change colored gels on nearly 400 indivudal lights.
Now, thanks to a new hi-tec LED lighting system, the building’s pallette can be changed with a few keystrokes or the swipe of a smart phone app. It’s all thanks to a $1.5 million investment by building owner LaSalle Investment Management that has replaced 382 1,000 watt lights with 216 LED lights consuming only 180 watts each. The updates will reduce energy usage by 92% and save upwards of $260,000 annually. (see the Miami Herald’s cover story on this transformation)
Best of all, Miami’s iconic tower will remain iconic. The new system can flood the building with as many as 16 million colors and can project a range of effects, from sunrises and sunsets to American flags and fireworks. So next time you drive by Miami Tower and take note of the building, you’ll know there’s much more to the story than meets the eye.