San Antonio, TX, USA
– Luminaria Light Arts Festival
Each year in March, the young, creative lighting festival, Luminaria, demonstrates the newest in spectacular art and performances involving anything light. In just five years it has grown from a few underground artists doing all sorts of improvisational light performances and installations to attracting several hundred thousand people today, curious to see a wealth of unique active and interactive lighting design projects from artists and designers.
Big lights for big events
They like it big in Texas. Very big. And big events require big lights. With more than 200,000 people attending this one-nighter of lighting extravaganza, clearly everybody can’t get around to see it all.
One lighting design that everybody saw, however, was the illuminated San Antonio city icon, the 750 feet/228 m tall Tower of the Americas. Visible from miles away by day, by night this pile of concrete is usually invisible except for its lit up restaurant deck hovering over the HemisFair Park resembling an old Boston album cover. But one night every year the entire tower becomes magic. As the event’s single biggest visual surface, this vertical playground is obviously a prestigious scalp on any lighting designer’s résumé.
This year, SGM turned the Tower of the Americas into the Tower of LED Power. Texas based Enlightening Ideas architectural light designer, Jerry Colmenero, was honored with the task of illuminating the 45 year old mastodon for the second year in a row.
Height – the no. 1 challenge
Not many fixtures have the reach needed to be visible 750 feet tall, even under perfect, pitch black conditions. Add to this high ambient light from a downtown environment and the task becomes even more challenging. “Ambient light is always the enemy. You never have a completely dark-sky environment to work with. A fixture must be able to punch through the ambient light to be effective” Jerry says, eliminating any doubt that he knows the ins and outs of illuminating cityscape architecture.
P-5 passed with flying colors
Jerry used 6 P-5 fixtures for his performance and they literally passed the test with flying colors: “The P-5 outperforms anything I have seen for its physical size and rated power, simply great. Randy Wade [head of SGM US] really pulled this through on making sure I had the right lenses set for this project” says an overly satisfied Jerry Colmenero. To enhance the tower effect, Jerry spiced up his design using four 1.5K Xenon spots with beams into the air.
As an experienced designer in architectural, Jerry is certainly no rookie in this game: “Site restrictions also play a role. You usually don’t get the ideal placement position and so the flexibility of changing lenses on site and the light weight of the fixtures is a plus during set-up. Set-up was quick, the menu system intuitive, in general I did not have to work the P-5, the P-5 worked for me”.
Sleek and clean design
“Sleek and clean is how I would describe the look of the fixture. So often fixtures of this kind are bulky and look like a metal-shop project. The P-5 is elegant”, Jerry continues.
Despite its handy proportions and tight design line, make no mistake about the power this tiny devil spawns and the crazy bright LED colors it displays. The crowd response speaks for itself: Once Jerry fired up the P-5s everybody went “WOW, look at the tower – it has colors!”
Weather reports warned about a storm approaching towards the end of the festival.
So when Luminaria’s big finale was literally blown away and everybody ran for cover – the only thing still standing was the majestically P-5 illuminated Tower of LED Power.