By Mark Halper
Posting in Architecture
A century after Picasso, the City of Light gets another blue period - and green, and orange - as Philips bathes the ridiculed Montparnasse Tower with LED artistry. Saves energy too.
The joke about Paris' 690-foot tall Montparnasse Tower is that you get the best city view from its roof, because it's the only location where you can't see the monolithic structure that's so architecturally out of place that it prompted authorities back in the 1970s to ban more skyscrapers in the area.
Holland's N.V. Philips this week softened the ridicule, at least at night time. It has lit up the tower in LED lights that can change colors and brightness at the push of a button thanks to a digital control system. The tower's fundamental scheme varies with the four seasons: green in spring, blue in summer, orange and yellow in autumn and white/deep blue in the winter.
The lights' "scenography" also changes and pulses rhythmically, and will perform in sympathy with city events and festivals. Montparnasse's new lights even wink with the more famously elegant Eiffel Tower across town to announce the hour.
Looks aside, the new decorative makeover saves energy too, as LEDs - light emitting diodes - are known to do. According to Philips, the lights use less than 10 percent of the electricity of the fluorescent lights they replace - 25 kilowatt hours versus 272. Philips likens their energy consumption to the amount of electricity required to operate 10 irons. (What do you want, a nice looking skyscraper, or wrinkle-free shirts? Your choice).
The lights are mounted indoors but aimed out, up and down the 56 floors of Europe's 13th tallest building. They'll last for 15 years, Philips claims (let's start the count now!). That represents another big savings in cost, as it cuts out the price of replacement bulbs and maintenance.
At last, a century after Picasso, the City of Light gets another blue period. And green. And orange. And white.
Photos: Paris city view from Benh Lieu Song via Wikipedia. Montparnasse Tower from Philips.
An LED sampler from SmartPlanet. (Want more? Enter 'LED' in the search box top of page. Be careful what you ask for, you'll get it!):
- The LED that gives more power than it takes
- An LED bulb under $5
- Broadening the appeal of LEDs: Taiwan’s wide beam bulb
- Philips CEO: We’ll cut prices on LED bulbs
- Car’s ‘glass’ roof by day becomes interior light at night. Oh OLEDs!
- More LED truths and half-truths
- When good lights go bad: LED breakdown
- The hot and cold of LED lighting
Mar 22, 2012
Personally I would use the word "sight" It is very good news on the LED power saving and lets hope the message is leveraged out to the widest audience
Oops. Good catch dieseltaylor. Way to sight the error in the photo caption, and to even cite it here in comments! I've now corrected it. "Site" was left over from an earlier construction referring to the site of the building. But you don't need to know that. I go out of my way to avoid silly mistakes like that, but sometimes, when working near, um, the speed of light, they creep in. Thanks for keeping me on my toes and in my spelling book.