At the intersection of Fourth Street and Chestnut Street in Louisville, KY, stands an elegant and unique illumination art piece, designed by city architect Kristin Booker incorporating local artists. The Fourth and Chestnut Redevelopment Project includes four color-changing towers, each wrapped in historical photographs and backlit with two Martin Exterior 200 color changers. The purpose of the project was to give the city a visually unique entrance to a refurbished Art Deco theatre district, now an up-and-coming retail and residential quarter.

Illuminating Concepts of Farmington Hills, MI, known for its creative architectural lighting design solutions, was commissioned for the project. It was decided to create a series of backlit graphic panels on 25'-high towers. Black-and-white photographs of the intersection from the 1920s, '30s, and '40s were digitized and enlarged to 16' in height.

“The photos came out amazingly clear,” comments Illuminating Concepts studio director and project manager Keith Irtenkauf. “They were very rich photos to begin with. We played with the dot pitch to optimize color saturation and light intensity.” Two photos per tower are wrapped around the four sides of each tower and backlit. The graphics can be changed to correspond with a special event or holiday season.

Having experimented with several types of lighting that didn't achieve the desired result, Illuminating Concepts selected the Martin Professional Exterior 200. “The Exterior 200s were not only intense and bright, they were also easy to incorporate into the design,” states Irtenkauf. “The Exteriors allowed us to save on size, space, and weight as well as electricity. And because of the Exterior 200's CDM lamp, we could offer a long 6,000- to 9,000-hour lamp life, which makes them easier to maintain. The cost savings allowed for the use of two fixtures for the price of one 1,200W fixture.”

As the intersection is already fairly narrow and visually cluttered, the towers are programmed with slow, crossfading color changes. Control is via wireless radio DMX communication. One tower acts as a transmitter and the other three towers as receivers. An ELC ShowStore controller is located at the base of one tower and transmits data to the first Exterior 200, which is daisy-chained to the others. Audio and other multimedia can also be added if desired.