Standing 145 feet tall, the complex of eight futuristic-looking egg-shaped digesters at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Greenpoint, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., is visible for miles. During the day, sunlight glints off of the bulbous forms' stainless steel cladding. At night, they come alive in a more unearthly way, steeped in a halo of blue light courtesy of Manhattan-based lighting design firm L'Observatoire International.
L´Observatoire provided exterior lighting design services for the entire plant. Much of the job involved using metal halide worklights to meet the bare bones technical requirements of night shift work. But the team at L'Observatoire, ever the artists, sprinkled the expansive industrial landscape with accents of blue. The result is a diaphanous veil of colored light that defines the boundaries of the plant. “The color is a symbol for calm, cleanliness, and purity, but it also serves to contrast the light of the city, which is predominately amber or bright white,” says Hervé Descottes, L'Observatoire's founder.
The eggs themselves—each capable of processing 1.5 million gallons of sludge every day—are backlit by four batteries of four 1,500W metal halide lamps, each with a blue filter. When turned on, the luminaires take several minutes to warm up, during which the intensity of the light steadily grows, creating the impression that you are not just looking at a piece of industrial architecture, but rather watching an alien life form slowly awaken.
Mike Gehring: I love the way that something so huge and mundane has been transformed into something magical at night. I yearn for the day when every utilitarian project will have great lighting.
Randy Sabedra: Kudos for transforming a potential eyesore into a work of art.
Sandra Stashik: This saturation of colored light creates an otherworldly nighttime landmark.
Manufacturers / Applications
Hubbell: 26W compact fluorescent jelly jar fixtures at connecting bridges
GE: 1500W metal halide lamps throughout
RAL: 70W metal halide work lights
Venture Lighting: Digester eggs' metal halide fixtures with blue filters