Officials at the Mercedes Benz Superdome ‘flipped the switch’ on to illuminate the Louisiana landmark with a state-of-the art Martin Professional lighting show designed by Solomon Group, a multimedia production firm based out of New Orleans. The lights wash the building’s exterior in a spectrum of animated colors, patterns and images. The inaugural lighting event on October 20 gathered more than 4,000 spectators and featured a special program that showcased the broad array of the system’s dynamic illumination capabilities set to a soundtrack scripted especially for the event.
The design required the installation of 288 Martin Professional Exterior 410™ lighting fixtures that are capable of reproducing every color of the rainbow on all 96 concave aluminum panels that ring the building’s exterior. The project is the largest installation of an Exterior 400 Range™ fixture in the world. The Exterior 410 is a bright yet compact luminaire that uses pre-mixed LEDs and RGBW color mixing, part of an award-winning Exterior 400 Range of outdoor LED wash lights that includes color calibration for more uniform color projection.
The four quadrants of the Superdome’s exterior also feature Martin Professional Exterior 1200 Image Projectors™, powerful 1200 watt luminaires designed to project animated images and effects. The entire lighting system is controlled by a Martin Professional MaxModule Cerebrum™, a powerful touch-screen control unit, working through four Martin Ether2DMX8™ routers, one located in each quadrant of the dome. The lighting control system can also be operated remotely so that the color scheme can be managed and manipulated off site. The new lighting system will showcase the facility as part of the city’s vibrant Sports District and will also include coordinated illumination with Champions Square, which also uses a Martin Professional lighting system.
Solomon Group, which also served as the media technology designer for Champions Square, developed the lighting concept to create a multimedia environment that would enhance the New Orleans skyline.
"Our goal was to create a lighting system that is both innovative and aesthetically stunning. Onlookers are sure to be amazed by what it brings to the exterior of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.” says Solomon Group President Gary Solomon, Jr. “The lighting will complement what we did for Champions Square and add a new element to our city’s iconic skyline.”
The Mercedes Benz Superdome has been illuminated temporarily twice for special events in the past, including the first post-9/11 Super Bowl in 2002 and September 25, 2006, when the facility was reopened after Hurricane Katrina. Both of those installations were temporary and were only able to light the upper half of the facility’s exterior. The new LED lighting system is much more advanced and dynamic. It contains more fixtures and can be programmed with a vast array of color options.
Working with local architects Eskew+Dumez+Ripple/Ellerbe Becket, A Joint Venture and electrical contractor Frischertz Electric, Solomon Group installed the system, which is remarkably energy efficient. The entire system, when operating in one color, draws only 10 kilowatts of electricity – the equivalent amount of energy used by a small home. In fact, the current system draws only 25% of the power drawn by the system it replaced. In addition, when operated six hours per day every day of the year, the lighting fixtures should last for decades.
The lighting system will be operated nightly and will feature many different colors and lighting patterns. The design of the lighting system includes the capability to customize effects, images and color in order to celebrate specific events or commemorate occasions.
“This is something we have been interested in doing for some time. Exterior lighting can transform a facility and have a huge impact on the night-time skyline,” said SMG Senior Vice President Doug Thornton, who operates the Mercedes Benz Superdome. “We see this as another significant feature that will enhance the identity of the facility, while creating a colorful display for all New Orleanians to enjoy.”
Brian Friborg, President of Martin Professional US, commented on the project, stating, “The Superdome project has really exceeded all expectations and we are extremely proud to be a part of it. We have been very moved by this project, by the sincere passion of those involved, and what the renovation of the Superdome has meant to the people of New Orleans. This is really about the rebirth of an iconic American venue, and a wonderful city, and we are glad to have played a small part in that.”
The install of the lighting system completes an $85 million renovation that has completely modernized the facility.
Solomon Group Solomon Group practices the art of bringing stories to life. Founded in 2009 by Gary Solomon Jr., Steve Fink, and Jonathan Foucheaux, the firm has become a leading creator, designer and builder of live events, exhibits, installations and attractions. Their work spans museum-type learning attractions, corporate events and live entertainment destinations.
Solomon Group delivers unique and memorable experiences, events and attractions by producing with an audience-centric perspective, employing cutting-edge technologies and developing innovative, custom solutions. Combining the disciplines of lighting, sound, video and scenic, the firm offers a holistic approach to technology installation and programming. Committed to being a partner from start to finish, Solomon Group specializes in producing turn-key events that make the impossible look easy. The firm’s past work includes Champions Square at the Mercedes Benz Superdome, Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond for the Louisiana State Museum, Stage Door Canteen at the National World War II Museum, Southern Republican Leadership Conference and more.