Let’s Light The High Level Bridge Right
When I first saw Dave Mowat’s Pecha Kucha presentation in October 2012 I was totally on board with the idea of lighting up the High Level Bridge, as was basically everyone in the crowd at the time. It’s a good idea, to be sure, taking inspiration from many places around the world that have done the same. Council’s Executive Committee is running with the idea, directing EPCOR to come up with a design, meaning this might be a good idea that actually gets done in a short amount of time.
When that news broke though, I thought back to a tweet my friend Christian Whitty wrote back in December:
Every time a public space adds colour-changing LEDs, an angel loses its wings. #yeg
— Christian Whitty (@whittychristian) December 21, 2012
He also threw down three more tweets elaborating on his point last week. When I asked him a bit more about his view, he said colour changing LEDs reminded him of a screensaver. I find humour in the thought of the High Level Bridge acting as a giant screensaver for the entire river valley, and it’s true the look is a bit dated now. It was novel at first when multi-colour, highly colour-saturated LEDs were newly available on the market, but now anyone with $200 can buy a set of LED bulbs and have crazy colours in their own home (disclosure: I kind of want those).
It reminds me of those irritating blue LEDs that are impossible to focus on and that unfortunately adorn the base of the brand new EPCOR building, making it look like a Dell laptop. I like the rest of the building, but find those blue LEDs intolerable.
Similarly, I don’t want the new High Level Bridge lighting to have that dated colour-changing look before they’re even done being put up. An approach that I’ve heard before is having the lights change based on events, like how the Empire State Building does. If the Oilers are on a run for the Cup (haha) the lights could be copper and blue, like I’ve tried to show above. Green and gold on Eskimos days, a rainbow for the pride parade, you get the idea.
Here’s a crazy concept
A weird and unique idea that popped into my head: since the High Level is a one-way traffic bridge, install a series of proximity sensors to detect where vehicles are on the bridge, and have the lights follow the vehicles. A colourful southbound stream of traffic representing the movement of the city. What do you think? Any other fun ideas?
Photo of the High Level by Darren Kirby. Editing and GIF-ication by Mike Otto.