On October 13, 2016, Boston mayor, Martin J. Walsh unveiled the new LED-based architectural lighting of Boston City Hall. The lighting debut was during this year’s final Beer Garden on the Bricks event, themed “Light Bright Beer Garden.” The city intends the new LED lighting to highlight and enhance the building’s original design and increase public safety. The exterior lighting installation is one among several ongoing initiatives to highlight City Hall and City Hall Plaza and make them more inviting for residents.
“I am proud that for the first time in its 48 year history, Boston City Hall is going to shine,” said Mayor Walsh. “This state of the art lighting system will help make City Hall the civic heart of our city by livening up the plaza, while making the area safer and connecting us to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. Bringing new light to City Hall is symbolic of a more responsive vision here at City Hall, one that is meant to be engaging, inspiring, and serve as a beacon of the city and our values.”
New LED fixtures replaced the original Metal Halide exterior recessed lighting and the existing floodlights that illuminate the building’s lower levels and accentuate the entrances. The new fixtures cover the building in a warm white light, and they can produce a broad range of colors. Such color options can allow the City to light the building to acknowledge a variety of celebratory and public events.
The mayor lit the building blue to recognize the police officers injured in East Boston, and as a further demonstration of its light changing capability, the mayor changed the color to pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The pink lights at city hall added to pink lighting of numerous buildings and landmarks around the city.
The lighting highlights the original three-part design of City Hall. The lower levels house the public spaces of the building. The symbolic spaces including the middle sections hold the offices of the Mayor and the City Council, and the administrative spaces crown the building and house the administrative functions of government.
According to the city, the new exterior lighting improves security lighting. The city says that the system allows for the floodlights and associated conduit added to the building over the years to be entirely removed.
“By illuminating its iconic and bold form, City Hall’s interaction with Boston’s urban fabric may be reinvigorated,” said David Eisen FAIA, Boston Society of Architects/AIA (BSA) Vice President for Communications. “It’s a decisive step toward transforming one of the most internationally renowned buildings that make up our distinct architectural heritage.”
The new fixtures are more energy efficient than the Metal Halide fixtures and the existing Flood Lights that they replace. The LED lighting is expected to save the city about 300,000 kWh of electricity annually compared to the replaced lights. The LED technology has a projected 20-year lifespan compared to the 4-year life of the metal halide lights that the LED system replaces. The City expects additional savings from the cost of maintenance and light replacement.
Arcade lights have also been retrofitted with LED lighting to complement the new City Hall lighting.
The same controller will be able to operate and coordinate both the arcade lights and the City Hall lights.
“It is wonderful that the City is taking this opportunity to recreate its own home place – City Hall – as the keystone and central event in an ongoing pursuit of improved illumination for our city,” said Todd Lee, President of LIGHT Boston.