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Willis Tower's Antenna Lighting Goes From 8-Bit Color To True Color

The colors on Willis Tower's antenna system used to need a crew of electricians and perfect weather to change out.

EQ Office completed an upgrade to Willis Tower's antenna lighting system that is comparable to changing the color display on a computer screen from 8-bit color to True Color. The iconic twin antennae atop Chicago's tallest building now have more color options to choose from to light up the night sky during holidays and special events.

EQ Office contracted RGB Lights to install an LED lighting system allowing a single operator to alter the hue and depth of lighting colors in seconds. That is a major upgrade from the two-person crew that used to change the lights, then had to change the lights back to white. It took hours and they could only do it in near-perfect weather conditions: low winds and no precipitation.

The range of colors has greatly increased, from 12 colors to an array that includes colors the human eye can't see. In another upgrade, the colors can now animate up and down along the antennae's spans. The new lights are brighter, emitting 337,248 lumens, equivalent to illuminating the antennae with 337 car headlights.

The lighting system is expected to save EQ Office 70% in energy costs. With the ease of operations, more colors and reduced manpower costs, EQ Office expects the number of requests to change the lighting colors to skyrocket. Currently, Willis Tower receives 30 requests annually. The upgrades are part of Willis Tower's $500M renovation project. Ownership is undertaking a major overhaul of the building's elevator systems. The street-level lobby is being transformed into a new retail hub.