The Philadelphia skyline features a fantastic collection of prominent skyscrapers that shimmer during the day. But at night, particularly from certain angles, the skyline can be underwhelming with the amount of darkness, despite a number of bright displays. Many of the towers were not originally designed with decorative lighting, while illumination at others has faded or otherwise deteriorated over the years, so the ones still have well-maintained nighttime lighting are greatly appreciated for their look. The majority of skyscrapers that are illuminated are at some of the tallest in the city, and most of them were built around the same time period in the late 1980s within the same part of Center City. But given a number of recent developments, it is possible that original lighting schemes on a number of skyscrapers are being restored to their original look.
Last month, Philadelphia YIMBY reported on new lighting schemes that are decorating the nighttime skyline. Though it was already known that One Liberty Place at 1650 Market Street and the W/Element Hotel at 1441 Chestnut Street, both located in Center City, are having their lighting tested, both now feature together in the skyline, with new programming visible to the residents of the city. The lights on One Liberty Place, which used to be dimmer and had sections of the lighting noticeably lit a different color, the lights have now been fixed and brightened. The W/Element Hotel used to be a dark skyscraper in the night time skyline with just the aviation warning lights noticeable, but now the skyscraper is lit up nearly as much as the FMC Tower in University City.
Since the late 1980s, Philadelphia’s Center City skyscrapers featured appealing decorative lighting schemes. The first tower to be lit up was One Liberty Place at 1650 Market Street, completed in 1987, with lights accentuating the angled crown and the sharp spire. Over the years more high-rises towers were constructed that also displayed standout nighttime lighting, with one of the biggest recent additions being the Comcast Technology Center with its massive lantern at the top. Even more recent was the W/Element Hotel at 1441 Chestnut Street, where intensive testing of its the decorative lighting started just a few months ago.
In recent days, decorative lighting was undergoing testing atop the W/Element Hotel at 1441 Chestnut Street in Center City, as the dual-branded hotel readies for its grand opening in the coming months (Element Hotel in April and the W Hotel in May). Designed by Cope-Linder Architects and developed by Chestlen Development, the tower’s nighttime illumination will be particularly effective due to the tower’s prominent height of 617 feet and 52 stories, further enhanced by the dramatic design inspired by the ripples on the Schuylkill River. During Superbowl LII, the Lighting Practice, the building’s illumination designer, was inspired by multiple skyscrapers that were illuminated in green in honor of the Philadelphia Eagles and decided to switch from an all-white design to a multi-colored LED system.
An upgrade has been completed for the lighting array atop the PECO Building at 2301 Market Street in Center City West. Designed by H2L2 (Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larson), the building was completed in 1970, which was soon followed by a number of major high-rise developments in Center City. The tower rises to a total of 27 stories and 384 feet, an an impressive height for its time. While the tower does not feature an outstanding design, it is widely known for its tenant, the PECO Energy Company, which serves customers across the tri-state area and all over the country. However, the tower is best known for its 38-foot-high screen spanning every face on top of the tower, measuring 148 feet across on the north and south façades and 71 feet across the east and west faces. Over the decades, more than 17,500 digital messages have scrolled across the display.