The exterior of Harrah's Atlantic City recently got a glamorous new look, thanks to a unique new design by the staff of Atlanta-based Stone Mountain Lighting Group. The hotel-casino complex recently added a new building, the 28-story Bayview Tower; mindful that competition is on the way in the form of the Borgata, a glitzy new venue going up next door, Harrah's management decided to give its new building that something extra special to make it stand out on the Atlantic City skyline. Stone Mountain, which has worked before with the project architects, the Friedmutter Group (most notably on the Atlantic City Visitors' Center), was called in to help.

The plan was to create a dramatic wash of color on the building, but, says David Groves, senior lighting designer and president of Stone Mountain, “They really came to us for a solution other than neon. We looked at everything from light pipe to neon.” Perhaps not surprisingly these days, the solution turned out to be LEDs. Stone Mountain selected a new product, iColor Fresco, from Color Kinetics. “It's basically their linear circuit board in a waterproof outdoor extrusion,” says Groves, adding, “We used a combination of 4', 2', and 1' pieces. Most of the pieces are 4' and they're mounted onto the snap covers, which are part of the mullion structures.” The line of circuit board placed on each floor is of a slightly different length, making an effect like a giant curve across the building. The iColor Fresco units can be programmed to do different color patterns, creating very striking effects on the buildings, such as a rainbow or an American flag.

The system was created in-house, says Groves. “We got all of the [LED] pieces into our facility at Stone Mountain. We did all the testing there, and the installation of the pieces into the snap covers, then we packaged them into sea containers, which we sent up to Harrah's. We worked with the electrical contractor on the installation process, getting the right pieces with the right addresses in the right locations, troubleshooting the system as it went in.”

Programming and controlling the LEDs was quite a challenge, requiring 11 separate DMX universes. “We laid out the programming almost a year ahead of the time the building was ready,” says Groves. “Paul Creasy, our project manager, said that it took about 800 hours of programming, both on- and off-site.” The effects have been programmed into “a 20-minute loop,” the designer says. “It goes through a series of different effects, all of which are animated. There are rainbows, wipes, chases. All the pieces are addressed in 2' sections.”

Control is provided by the Horizon system from Entertainment Technology/Genlyte; the Stone Mountain programmers used Martin Professional's Show Designer visualization program to do off-site programming. “We did most of the programming here at our office,” adds Groves. In preparing the show for presentation to Harrah's management, he adds, “We discussed different looks that we thought would work well. We did a little movie of them [in Show Designer] to show them the effects that they could have. They were pleasantly surprised with how much variety they could get out of the system.” Of course, it's possible to do specific light shows for special occasions. “We've done holiday shows for them already,” says Groves. Overall, 980 iColor Fresco 4' units were used, along with 46 iColor Fresco 2' and 46 iColor Fresco 1' models.

The rest of the complex is washed by AR500 units from ETC/Irideon; 50 remote ballast units were used along with 46 in the standard configuration. “Three sides of the building are washed with color,” says Groves. “On the south face of the building, there's a stylized H built into the architecture, creating a kind of hourglass look. There are five Coemar 1200X units, mounted in custom Tornado fixtures [from Tempest Lighting], that project onto that.” Control is provided by a Hog PC from Flying Pig Systems.

Other personnel on the project included on-site manager Rob Gosman, programmer Chad Kuney, and LDs Brent Shelly and Joe Zamore. Thanks to their work, Atlantic City is looking spiffier these days.