Sunday, December 21, 2008

Urban Dispatch: How To Remedy The Cira Centre’s Wanting Lite-Brite Nighttime Lighting Schematic

agbar tower barcelona
Agbar Tower in Barcelona, via Flickr user alexdcardona

Some people like the Cira Centre’s uninspired lighting schematic. Most do not. We fall into this latter category.

Such a dramatic and modern addition to the skyline as the Cira Centre should have a similarly modern impact on the skyline by night. Its current lights do not, unfortunately, come close to doing so.

Until now, however, we never really had a better suggestion. The problem was we knew that a traditional skyscraper lighting scheme wouldn't do the Cira Centre justice at night, but we didn't know what would.

The Cira should be as breathtaking to behold at night as it is during the day.

Finally, thanks to the current issue of Metropolis, we came across a building in Barcelona with nighttime lighting that the Cira Centre could emulate in order to achieve that effect.

In our minds, a futuristic glowing orb is approximately 67 times better than Cira Centre’s current LED rendering capacity, which gives the impression that buildings in Philadelphia are built with technology from the 1800s.

Check it.

Agbar Tower in Barcelona, image via Metropolis

Photo via Flickr user notarivs
Agbar Tower, Barcelona, Spain, 2005

By day, the surface of this bullet-shaped tower, designed by Jean Nouvel, looks like a subtle mosaic of blue and red tiles with a whimsical pattern that is more or less visible depending on the angle of the sun and the weather conditions.

By night, the Barcelona landmark becomes a garish beacon, the colors of its glazed facade amplified by 4,500 LED devices that act as paint brushes, adding bright-orange, yellow, turquoise, and purple touches to the original canvas.

[Yann] Kersalé installed his specially designed lighting fixtures on the narrow gangway between the skyscraper’s colored exterior wall and its glass skin. “Because the entire system is programmed, I can play at will with the intensity of the illumination,” Kersalé says. “I can set the tower ablaze, or I can keep it just a pale glow.”

Another layer of serendipity is added by bright squares of white light coming from the building’s windows: workers staying late in their offices unwittingly put a finishing touch on this giant abstract composition.
Now, compare that with the Cira Centre.

Photo via Flickr user sokref1

Again, Agbar Tower…

Photo via Flickr user piriskoskis

Photo via Flickr user Hugo1980

Photo via Flickr user bili_bcn

Versus the Cira Centre…

Photo via Flickr user concep007

Oy vey.

Cira Centre really knocked it out of the ballpark with its highly sophisticated design consisting of rows and dots.

We're not saying Cira should straight up copy the Agbar design. Rather, we are saying that it'd be nice for the Cira Centre to aspire to a nighttime presence a little more progressive and inspirational than the design of a kids toy from the 1960s.

Reclaiming the Night - Yann Kersalé’s nocturnal illuminations have helped revitalize cities, parks, public spaces, and buildings all over Europe. [ Metropolis Magazine ]


Anonymous said...

i could not agree with this more. the cira is embarassing at night.
- west philly resident

mintyfella said...

i'm so glad someone said this. why cant this be on the front page of the inquirer? i HATE those lights. they make no sense and completely cheapen the building at nite. we finally get a cool building and it is disgraced by bad lite-brite schematics.