Unlimited Visibility Lighting Design (UVLD) and Production Glue collaborated to mark the 125th birthday of the Brooklyn Bridge for a five-day celebration that commenced with fireworks and dramatic lighting of the bridge on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend.

A joint press release announcing the event from the offices of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz called it “an unprecedented light installation featuring a colorful array spanning the length of the Brooklyn Bridge…” Rising to the occasion, UVLD lighting designer Greg Cohen and his colleagues had to find what he describes as “a dynamic way to tell the bridge's story while providing a visual punctuation to the 125th birthday observation.”

Spectators were treated to a performance by the Brooklyn Philharmonic, followed by a Grucci fireworks display, after which Mayor Bloomberg turned on the lighting installation that spanned the bridge, illuminating the East River cityscape from 9 to 11pm through the holiday weekend.

UVLD proposed using large searchlight-style fixtures to light the bridge. “There's nothing more implicit to a high-profile event than a searchlight,” Cohen says. “Large beams of light draw in the crowd and show spectators they're part of something important or historic. At that moment in time, they're where it's at.”

But searchlights are typically “somewhat limited in their theatrics,” he adds. “So we suggested using more theatrical, large-format lighting.” Working in tandem with Production Glue, UVLD installed 24 Syncrolite XL 10 10kW luminaires on the bridge center and tower anchors, six Syncrolite SB5Ks on the Brooklyn Tower anchor scaffolding, and six Syncrolite SB 5/3s on the Brooklyn shore. Most of the lights were positioned on the bridge's guardrail between the roadway and the pedestrian walkway. Staggered on both sides, the lights zigzagged across the bridge span.

“The biggest challenge was working in a public space and a highly-trafficked public space at that,” says producer Jennifer Kurland of Production Glue. “We had to design the production so it wouldn't impede the pedestrian walkway which remained open to walkers and bike-riders throughout the installation, and we worked closely with city agencies to minimize impact on the public and maintain security on the bridge.”

The Syncrolite rigs, provided by Syncrolite of Dallas, were controlled by an MA Lighting grandMA console. “Our possibilities became vast: beams of light tracking the area can transform into illuminating the bridge as it's never been shown before,” adds UVLD principal John Ingram. Tom Blancato served as production electrician and David Arch as programmer. Tom Bussey, principal of Production Glue, was the staging producer.

“She never looked as good,” Mayor Bloomberg was quoted as saying in New York's Daily News.