The Times Square New Year's Eve Ball has had a few upgrades since its initial descent in 1907. Most recently, the team at New York–based Focus Lighting was asked to update the ball's design in honor of its 100th anniversary using light-emitting diode (LED) technology and triangular crystal panels from Waterford Crystal.

Figuring out a way to highlight the brilliance of the crystal and have the ball look stunning to all viewers, whether they were watching the ball drop in Times Square in person or via television, was a challenge for the designers. The 6-foot-diameter ball weighs approximately 1,100 pounds and features 672 individual crystal triangles that sport an exclusive pattern by Waterford called “Let There Be Light.” A mirrored baffle multiplies the number of visible points of lighting behind each crystal panel. Looking to create a dynamic, colorful, and energy-efficient lighting design for the ball, the team at Focus Lighting used 9,576 red, green, blue, and white LEDs to backlight the triangular crystals. The current ball operates with all solid-state technology as opposed to the 600 incandescent and halogen lamps used to illuminate the previous model.

“It is an honor to receive an award for a project that involved such elaborate problem-solving and layering of elements,” says Paul Gregory, principal of Focus Lighting. “An extensive concept stage helped us to actualize our ideas on accentuating custom-cut crystal, with a series of mirrored triangular prisms and LED lights. The exciting result proved fitting for the New Year's spectacle.” Using the ball's lighting control system, eight “shows” were programmed for the New Year's festivities, showcasing the ball's enhanced brightness, myriad color capabilities, and increased efficiency. The ball drop to ring in the new year allowed the designers to see their ideas confirmed with the brilliance of the crystal and the dynamic use of rich colors appearing equally spectacular to all who watched.

Jury Comments
Kathy Abernathy: This one is all about the details.

Randy Burkett: A near-perfect application of lighting technology as an enhancement of an inherently beautiful form.

Jean Sundin: Impressive how many scenarios can be created onto the sphere.

David Ziolkowski: An incredible, extremely high-profile use of lighting technology.

Location: Times Square, New York Client: Countdown Entertainment, New York
Lighting Designer: Focus Lighting, New York
Structural Engineering and Development: Hudson Scenic Studio, Yonkers, N.Y.
Photographer: Ian Hardy, New York Project size: 6 feet (diameter)
Manufacturers: E:Cue Lighting Control, LED Effects, Lighting Science Group, Philips Lighting, Waterford Crystal