NEW YORK CITY (CBS) - Last night in Manhattan, looking up meant seeing the city in a different light, hundreds of them actually; all new, all LED, and all unveiled for the first time during a historic light show at the Empire State Building. It's the brightest moment this building has ever seen.
Bruno Biasiotta is the CEO and president of Philips Lighting, charged with transforming one of the world's most recognizable buildings by replacing 456 traditional light fixtures with more than 1,200 LEDs. He says, "It will because really the Empire State Building is going to have the opportunity to really light up close to two acres of their tower and façade with very, very dynamic lighting and undo that all with the touch of a button."
Since 1976, the Empire State Building has had colored lights to mark notable occasions like green for St. Patrick's Day, red white and blue on the anniversary of 9/11 and just last week there was a Thanksgiving theme.
But the lights were always limited to just a few colors and each fixture had to be manually covered with a colored gel screen. Now, the effects are computer-programmed, remote controlled, and 73 percent more energy efficient.
ON the 72nd floor you can get an up close look at what the new lights look like. Workers have been there swapping them out since June.
They started on the 70th floor and installed seven sections of lights, ending at the building's halo. The new bulbs are capable of emitting colors five to eight times stronger than those in the past.
Anthony Malkin manages the Empire State Building. He says, "First started thinking about this, believe it or not, 12 years ago. LED'S are all over the skyline of Manhattan now, so in fact the Empire State Building you can say has been a little behind. No one has done it quite the way that we have, but rest assure we're actually projecting the lights on the building not out onto the city, so no one is going to have to shield his or hers eyes. It is the world's most famous office building, it is the icon of the New York City landscape and we're not going to mess around with that."
Malkin also promises no commercials, no screens, no logos, just inspiring lights at night for a city that never sleeps.