From its construction in 1932 to the late 1970s, the iconic Gulf Tower building provided a basic weather forecast. Red and blue neon tube arrays mounted on the step-pyramid peak of the 44-story edifice provided the city with a simple, color-coded forecast system: red light signified fair weather ahead, while blue light meant rain or snow. If the light was steady, the temperature was predicted to rise; if flashing, to fall. During the energy crisis the neon was replaced with high pressure sodium lamps. In 2012, the building owners wanted C & C Lighting to create a weather beacon for the 21st century.
The design objective of the installation was to create a dynamic, color-changing light sculpture without incurring high energy costs. Linear LED fixtures were installed on all four sides of the building from the 39th through the 44th floors to create unlimited color mixing possibilities. A real time weather monitor was used to trigger different colors for temperature, precipitation, humidity and wind speed. The colors and sequence of weather parameters were chosen in such a way so that the tower would always look like a beautiful sculpture of light no matter what the weather pattern was. To keep the lighting from being too static, every 15 minutes the top of the beacon cycles through all the temperature colors as visual bell chimes. In addition to the weather, light shows have also been created to celebrate holidays, special events and sports events.
Philips Color Kinetics Showcase of the Gulf Tower lighting