About Dr. Bulb

This lighting blog covers a wide range of lighting topics including current events, the lighting industry, and product related blogs. I, Dr. Edison Bulb have 30+ years of lighting experience. My specialties include LED, commercial lighting and sports lighting. I am continuing my learning by keeping up with current lighting events and keeping track of them in this lighting blog.

LED Lighting for Pirates

In 2001, a security guard working the evening shift at the Gulf Tower in Pittsburgh had a very important responsibility. Whenever the Pittsburgh Pirates hit a homerun, he was instructed to press a button which triggered a strobe light at the top of the building. I, Dr. Bulb, wouldn’t mind having that job! I definitely know my sports lighting.

The lights have come a long way since then. According to the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, the lights atop the Gulf Tower were retrofitted with energy efficient LED lights, which enabled the owners to have a little more fun. C&C Lighting designed the system for a new and improved weather beacon in addition to sequences for holidays and sporting events. Last May, the lights revolved like a rotating red hockey strobe every time the Pittsburgh Penguins scored.

Now, it’s time for the Pittsburgh Pirates to get in on the fun! The lights turn on whenever the team hits a homerun, scores or wins. Check out the diagram below, created by the Post-Gazette.

Larry Walsh, senior vice president of Rugby Realtors, owner of the tower, had been coordinating the displays for much of the summer using his cell phone.

Since the tower is visible from PNC Park, it adds an entirely new element to the baseball game, according to Walsh in the Post-Gazette. “It’s gotten incredible response. I think the impetus was the fact that from PNC you look straight out at this building and it stands out there alone in the distance. It’s a natural fit for 38,000 people to look out and see it as a symbol.”

In mid-August, Walsh turned the great responsibility over to Paul Denillo, the Pirates’ production coordinator of in-game entertainment. Using programs set up by the Gulf Tower owners, he turns on the light shows with a simple click of a mouse. Home or away, the Gulf Tower serves to inform Pittsburghers of their beloved baseball team’s success.

Illuminating the tops of buildings has been around for a long time, even on the Gulf Tower. In 1932, the top six floors were designed to display weather conditions using different colored lights. Unfortunately, the high cost of maintenance of the individual neon tubes caused the owners to cease the lighting displays several decades later. But with the low-maintenance of energy efficient LEDs, a 21st century weather beacon was possible.

LED lighting saves the day again!

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