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LEDs From Around The World: The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building stands pervasively in the heart of midtown Manhattan and measures a staggering 1,454 ft high. It’s the 2nd largest building in New York City, the 25th largest in the world and offers a focal point for tourists eager to get a view of the sprawling city skyline.


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The building – which is spawn of 1930s Art Deco – consists of 102 storeys, and is home to Air China, LinkedIn and the Boy Scouts of America among many others.

It remains one of America’s – if not the world’s – cultural icons. Few will fail to recall one of the most famous film scenes of all time: King Kong – the gigantic, tortured ape – swinging violently from the building’s spire as he swipes antagonistic jets from the sky. One of many iconic images evoked by the building that’s also had cameos in Independence Day, Sleepless in Seattle and even British institution Doctor Who.


Its towering image is plastered across postcards, posters and photographs all over the world, such is its symbolic significance to the Big Apple. Like Big Ben is to England, or the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, the Empire State Building is a cultural-cornerstone and has been since its foundation in 1931 at the cost of £26,030,786.


It’s fitting then that when the ESB decided to make the switch to LED, they did so in style. Employing the vocal talents of ‘local lass’ Alicia Keys, the lights were officially turned on in 2012 to – fittingly – chart topping song ‘Empire State of Mind’.

The ESB is often used for displays and events, which is why they decided to switch from the old system that was limited to just 10 colours, to LED lighting which now offers them an incredible 16.7 million colours in different combinations, including; ripples, sparkles, sweeps and strobes – an eclectic palette that’s worthy of the most audacious of New Year’s celebrations.

The switch to energy efficient lighting was part of a wider $500m project to modernise the ESB and make it greener. LEDs have helped improve the quality and vibrancy of the light, while consumption has been reduced by more than half, leading it to become the tallest building in the world to be certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

On the 1st August 2015, the ESB briefly switched their focus to animal welfare issues. To raise awareness about endangered species across the globe, lit up images of various animals were cast over 33 floors of the building, an event that came not long after the controversy involving Cecil the Lion.


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