How Dallas’ Skyline Turned Purple for Innovation

After the Dallas skyline glowed in bright purple on the night of Feb. 25, many people asked, “how did you do that?”

purple skyline

After the Dallas skyline glowed in bright purple on the night of February 25, many people asked, “How did you do that?”

The purple skyline was downtown Dallas’ way of supporting innovation in the region, all at the request of Dallas Innovates. It was a remarkable show of unity by building owners involving 6 million LED lights strung on approximately 8 miles of light bars that are mounted on some of the city’s most prominent buildings.

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It was a beautiful display for downtown Dallas, which was voted the best skyline in the world by readers of USA Today in 2015.

Each building matched a predetermined “RGB” color provided by Dallas Innovates, and each hit the switch at about 6:20 p.m. The purple lights even reflected beautifully off buildings that don’t have their own lighting, enhancing the effect.

Among the buildings bathed in purple were Reunion Tower, Bank of America Plaza, the Hunt Consolidated headquarters building, the Omni Dallas Hotel, 17Seventeen McKinney, One Arts Plaza, and KPMG Plaza,

Such displays don’t happen without a lot of forethought. Here’s a look at some of the buildings that made themselves purple:

Bank of America Plaza

Bank of America Plaza, Photo by Michael Samples

Bank of America Plaza, Photo by Michael Samples

At 72 stories, it’s the tallest building in downtown Dallas. You usually know it for its green lighting theme, but Chief Operating Engineer Billy Rowland, was one of the first to jump on board to go purple. “We want to support Dallas as a community; with the other buildings participating, we felt we should give consideration to adding what we could to the program,” he said. Bank of America Plaza installed its new LED system in 2013, replacing the iconic green argon lights that had shone for years. It was all part of a $15 million renovation of the building. The building gets between 50 and 75 requests a year to use its lights to support community and charitable causes.

Reunion Tower “The Ball”

Reunion Tower, photo by Michael Samples

Reunion Tower, photo by Michael Samples

Operating since 1978, the light shows displayed on Reunion Tower are operated by a team of employees and contractors. There are 259 individual aluminum-and-glass, domed fixtures on the exterior structure of the Tower, offering a 360 degree angle of The Ball.  In addition to adding to the purple skyline, Reunion Tower once honored the victims of the terror attacks in Paris by displaying the French Flag. “While the city benefits from the light shows, it is a big effort on the part of those working with buildings and we applaud their efforts to bring attention to worthy causes in Dallas,” said Chris Kleinert, Co-CEO of Hunt Consolidated Inc., which owns the tower, which rises roughly 561 feet above the ground. The ball’s old incandescent light bulbs were replaced by LED in 2011.

Hunt Consolidated headquarters

Hunt_PurpleThe light show displayed at Hunt corporate headquarters is the collaboration of Hunt employees. “The building’s exterior sail is lined in 1,604 individual fixtures. Each fixture contains 32 LED Lights. Each LED has its own individual IP address for show programming,” according to the company. The lights are controlled by a central computer system and can produce more than 16,700 colors.  “We are big fans of innovation and entrepreneurship. Doing the light show helped us, in our own way highlight Dallas Innovates to our social media base and hopefully increased curiosity about the initiative,” Kleinert said.

Omni Dallas Hotel

Omni Hotel, Photo by Michael Samples

Omni Hotel, Photo by Michael Samples

Ed Netzhammer, regional vice president of Omni Hotels, was eager for the Omni Dallas Hotel to collaborate in creating the purple skyline. The hotel’s lights are separated in 3-foot sections, wrapping each floor which is about 9 feet apart; laying them end to end would create nearly 4 miles of lights. They are controlled from a small room housing computers in the heart of the hotel. The platform gave a powerful contribution to the collaborative effort that made the purple stand out. “We love the Dallas skyline and what the Omni and the city have added to it.” Netzhammer said.

KPMG Plaza Tower

KPMG Plaza Purle Skyline

KPMG Plaza at HALL Arts, Photo by Michael Samples

This 18-story, 500,000-square-foot office building was developed by the Hall Group, and is one of the newest additions to the Dallas skyline. While the building is well known for the artwork adorning its lobby, the structure’s exterior also is becoming known for its use of lighting, which includes motion picture displays, including old black-and-white movie classics.

17Seventeen McKinney


17Seventeen McKinney in Uptown

Owned by Granite Properties, the 19-story Class AA office building has a 22-story LED illuminated light panel. It was designed by the architecture firm of Good Fulton & Farrell and is in close proximity to Klyde Warren Park. The building was completed in 2010 and was awarded LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

One Arts Plaza

Developed by Billingsley Co., this 24-story tower sits on Routh Street in the Arts District of downtown Dallas. According to the One Arts website, the lighting consultant for the building was Scott Oldner Lighting. The design team for the building was led by Lucy Billingsley, Lionel Morrison, Lucilo Pena and Matt Mooney.

Lighting the future

Lighting the Dallas skyline purple was a beautiful tribute to innovation, and Scott Perkins, owner of Innovative Lighting in Irving said even more is possible.

“There are many buildings in Dallas that will be installing exterior lighting soon and it’s only a trend for the future.” Perkins said.

Thanks to Kevin Hann Photography @kevinhannphoto for providing the featured photograph accompanying this article.

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