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Cincinnati introduces a colorful world of lighting opportunities


Conventions coming to any town are known for making a major economic impact. Additionally, when they come to Cincinnati, Ohio’s Duke Energy Convention Center (DECC), their visual impact is seen in the evening skyline for up to five miles away.

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At the end of 2014, the 750,000 square-foot Convention Center replaced its older halogen lighting with LEDs to become energy efficient, reduce maintenance and improve lighting quality. The most obvious lighting change occurred to the 200’ by 40’ Cincinnati Icon sign, which now has the ability to display a variety of color combinations to emphasize branding for any event.

The annual Cincinnati Winter Beer Fest is usually hosted at DECC and takes over the entire venue. In February, the festival took advantage of the Icon sign for branding purposes. Working with the chief engineer and director of operations, the show organizer’s specially designed sign looked like a mug of beer. The top of the sign featured white lighting to mimic the frothiness of beer while the bottom two-thirds of the sign consisted of golden amber lighting reminiscent of lager.

“We can do thousands of color combinations. There is a lot of flexibility. We can match the color to their theme or match it to their logo color. We can also do multiple colors. For New Year’s Eve, we did alternating colors for each letter [of the sign],” explained Ric Booth, general manager, Duke Energy Convention Center, Global Spectrum.

Global Spectrum, the management company of the DECC, purchased the Pharos lighting system to make controlling the Icon sign easier than before. The Convention Center’s chief engineer can simply change the sign’s colors from the comfort of his own home, according to Booth.

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“In 2006, this technology didn’t exist. LED lights were very expensive. In the past six to eight years, lighting technology has improved, and it’s now affordable to do what we need,” he added.

Previously consisting of individualized white lights, the Icon sign was installed at DECC during its 2006 expansion.

“Clients from time to time asked about changing the color of the lights on the sign. Each time, we had to close the street, rent a 125-foot lift and put a gel on the bulbs. That process was between $5,500-8,500. It was expensive and time consuming,” stated Booth.

Global Spectrum started the overhaul of the sign in October 2014. After the four-week installation, the management company no longer had to worry about any of these issues. Now Global Spectrum is focusing on how the sign’s lighting could be used as part of the sales process to attract show organizers.

Posted in Features, News
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