Buffalo Grain Elevator Illuminated in Lighting Demonstration

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation joined forces last night with Foit-Albert and world-renowned Ambiances Design Productions from Montreal to project a light show onto Pool Elevator located adjacent to Gallagher Beach at the Outer Harbor. At around 8pm the show got underway with a portion of the elevator illuminated with both static and moving images*. Onlookers were treated with numerous video projections including Niagara Falls and jellyfish in motion, as well as a static image of the Buffalo Sabres’ logo. I talked to a number of people at the Outer Harbor who all said that the illumination project exceeded their expectations, and were hoping to see the entire elevator lit one day (along with others). 
The lighting of the grain elevator goes a long way towards showcasing these behemoth buildings as iconic structures. When illuminated, the elevators act as giant movie screens that broadcast brilliant images to passersby. As the show was underway, numerous cars pulled over along Fuhrmann Boulevard in order to catch a glimpse of the spectacle. “The transformation of these grain elevators into beautified monuments of Buffalo’s past is a metaphor for Governor Cuomo’s vision of rebuilding the entire waterfront and bringing back Buffalo,” said Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy referring to Governor Cuomo’s interest in Buffalo’s waterfront developed.  “The Governor’s progress at Canalside and along the waterfront is quickly gaining momentum and attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to increasing attractions and activities.   Dramatically illuminating these elevators will further resurrect Buffalo’s history with a nod to our urban environment and industrial heritage, while drawing more people downtown, leading to private investment and helping realize Governor Cuomo’s vision to revitalize Buffalo.”
light-em-Up-Buffalo-NY-1.jpg
Although the lighting stunt was temporary, the performance was necessary to showcase the potential for the project. A master plan will then be created, which will allow ECHDC to determine scope and timeline to potentially implement semi-permanent and full scale projections** at later dates. “Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation believes it is important to create visually interesting and appealing components along the Buffalo River and waterfront that will attract visitors, but will also make the citizens of Buffalo proud of the rich history and the redevelopment of their waterfront,” said ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia.  “The test lighting of the Pool Elevators that we are seeing is an important step toward that goal, while highlighting the grain elevators as a lasting symbol of the City of Buffalo and region’s commercial and industrial might.”
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It didn’t matter where you were watching the show last night, as there was not a bad seat in the house. It was definitely a cool scene and a huge tease… if that was just a test, I can’t wait to see the final project.
*Similar projects have been hugely successful in other parts of North America.  The Image Mill, installed in Quebec City in 2008 on a temporary basis to celebrate the city’s 400th anniversary, was so successful it is now installed on a semi-permanent basis and attracts 200,000 to 300,000 visitors per summer season. -ECHDC
**Barco, an international company headquartered in Belgium that provides visualization and display solutions for professional markets, has loaned ECHDC state-of-the-art projectors for the Buffalo demonstration.  Solotech, a Canadian company, is provided the lighting equipment. --ECHDC

Images #2 and #3 and #4 provided by Mark Swacha and Emily Roehl

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36 comments
jketry
jketry

(sorry if this has been said already as I did not read all the posts yet)

Big props to whoever brought this about.

We are the City of Light.

We should embrace this, and get the power authority to subsidize the project on a grander scale. Light up EVERY grain elevator and part of downtown every night from 9pm til midnight. Have a light tour of Buffalo nightly. During the summer it would draw the addition of boaters....during the winter cross country skiers. The type of lighting chosen could change seasonally. Sometimes very subtle lighting. Sometimes 3d lighting. This would give folks from Toronto, Cleveland, Erie, a reason to come to Buffalo to see something that could not been seen anywhere else.

BTW...light pollution? seriously? This was a great idea. The grain elevators are the Pyramids of Buffalo. The idea to accentuate them is brilliant!

Josh

https://me.yahoo.com/a/_r_EvKd7w9nq4aHjh_gNjXfjAJ3
https://me.yahoo.com/a/_r_EvKd7w9nq4aHjh_gNjXfjAJ3

I've seen the display in Quebec city, and it attracts so many people. I'm highly impressed Buffalo, lets make this a regular thing. In terms of light pollution, the shows usually run about 30 min... It's not like these images are going to be projected at 4am.

cookiestastelikesomecookies
cookiestastelikesomecookies

yeah I don't think I could handle Cellino and Barnes' picture on the side of a grain elevator but maybe if they could incorporate their names into the lights somehow it may be nice to look at.

marks
marks

Great job team! A lot of hard work made this preview fantastic!

grad94
grad94

agreed. great stuff!

LouisTully
LouisTully

Cuomo is going to ride any successes achieved on the waterfront and claim them to be by his own hand. Clown.

benfranklin
benfranklin

I'm aware of being able to 'correct' an image once, an example being when you have a projector hanging from a ceiling, but you want the image to appear square. The equation to do this is run across all coordinates.

To program for the individual indentations of the silo means you're not just correcting the image 'once', but various equations based on the ripples you're compensating for.

Maybe a physical modification to the lens that distorts the image?

Then again, if the image just needs to be stretched at certain intervals, you could add the pixels (you'd be making some assumptions about what color to insert based on the surrounding colors), save the file, and project the distorted image. The conversion wouldn't be in real time, but it's unlikely you'd be broadcasting live events, so that wouldn't be an issue.

rpm40
rpm40

I'm pretty sure it's possible to map out the building in software and then correct the projection accordingly to make it appear flat (or at least almost flat from most angles).

If they just try to fire a projector at it, yeah, it won't look quite right, but there are definitely solutions available that can be done entirely with computers.

davvid
davvid

This looks amazing.

This could be a great platform for local video/new media artists. With curating help from the Albright-Knox and Squeaky Wheel Buffalo could easily do much better than a copy of what is being done in Montreal.

Detroit is actually holding its first Dlectricity Light Art Festival this weekend.

DeanerPPX
DeanerPPX

The video feed from WIVB is considerably more impressive than these photos. No disrespect to the photographer, it's simply much different to see this in motion than a static view. Even the 'rooftop' light show is a nice addition to the projections used in Quebec.

The only thing I noticed that does take away from it is that the silos are a bit weathered. A paint job or cleaning would improve the visuals even further.

cyndrome
cyndrome

A number of you have a similar comment, but adding evening boat tours and coordinating with music would be a fantastic attraction.

I would like to add that I work down on waterfront, and the crowds down here this summer have been astonishing. Looking forward to continued progress!

This may be farfetched, but if they Skyway gets torn down, maybe a section of it could be left standing as a viewing platform, with access by stairway or elevator.

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

So nice to see a different tenor from "tear those eyesores down!!!"

I am a huge believer in/proponent of faster-quicker-heaper initiatives that help shift (ever-so-subtly) the publics' perception of an abandoned building.

Maybe we should be lighting up Trico and the Beth Admin buildings as well.

No_Illusions
No_Illusions

And there is so much space between the elevators for development. Could be a vibrant night life district

Lakeman
Lakeman

Quebec has been doing something similar with their grain elevators and industrial backdrop on their waterfront for a couple years now. We should definitely copy their idea.

I was there a couple years ago and saw this free show and it was amazing and drew a ton of people nightly. They created a 40 min show depicting the history of the city. It was better than just pumping some interesting lights onto the industrial facade.

I hope this is the direction Buffalo is heading. It could be an incredible platform to use to educate visitors (and locals) about our rich history. Please see the article below for some great images of Quebec's show.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2008/07/10/qc-lepage-cp-0710.html

buffalot
buffalot

Being there last night it seemed like the possibilities were endless... Imagine watching movies, boat tours while a show is going on, getting the immediate surroundings of the grain elevator paved would also be huge - parties, weddings, etc etc etc. I soo hope the ECHDC can gather the money to pull this off. My fingers are crossed.

oldwaiter
oldwaiter

Any bets on how long it will be until you see a Kathy Hochul, Chris Collins, Mark Grisanti, or Brian Higgins ad projected on the grain elevators?

Up and coming
Up and coming

"Look amazing...Cant wait to see the elevator across from the inner harbor illuminated"

That would be awesome!!!

BuffaloRox
BuffaloRox

I love this idea! I wonder if the contours of the silos will limit the images that can be projected. I understand that dilemma has prevented Silo City from being used an urban drive-in theater.

I hope that most, if not all, the grain elevators on the Buffalo River can be illuminated. With coordinated programming, it could be Buffalo's version of the highly successful WaterFire held in downtown Providence (www.waterfire.org). WaterFire has a series of small fires burning along the Providence River with music that combines a Phantom of the Opera feel with other live performance art and street vendors. It draws big crowds along the Providence River, which runs through its downtown.

Up and coming
Up and coming

Place solar panels on the top of the roof and let them be used for power.

Placemaker
Placemaker

What a spectacular way to highlight Buffalo's industrial heritage while adding beautiful visual interest to the waterfront.

It seems like cost of putting the lighting system in place may be the only challenge to this becoming a reality. I believe that there could be ways to offset these costs by having paid public fundraisers, corporate sponsors (no advertising within the images themselves), and looking into alternative energy solutions for power.

elmdog
elmdog

What a no-brainer......Please fast track this and do it now.....People flying into Buffalo would see this and be amazed and interested....Boat tours along the Buffalo River at night with these grain elevators giving off a story...If they are interchangeable, who knows the possibilities....

This in itself could be a tourist attraction...

Look amazing...Cant wait to see the elevator across from the inner harbor illuminated............

elmdog
elmdog

What a no-brainer......Please fast track this and do it now.....People flying into Buffalo would see this and be amazed and interested....Boat tours along the Buffalo River at night with these grain elevators giving off a story...If they are interchangeable, who knows the possibilities....

This in itself could be a tourist attraction...

Look amazing...Cant wait to see the elevator across from the inner harbor illuminated............

RLC
RLC

YES, YES, YES! Finally, a GREAT idea that helps create our image as a city with something to "see" at night! Great project....now, lets make it permanent. This is a unique project and something we can be proud of!

Buffalo: Then & Now
Buffalo: Then & Now

This is spectacular. First, the City of Night event at Silo City, and now the illumination of the elevators. What a great way to highlight Buffalo's historical sites! I wish I would have known about this event, I would have definitely made my way down to the harbor.

Buffalo: Then & Now
Buffalo: Then & Now

This is spectacular. First, the City of Night event at Silo City, and now the illumination of the elevators. What a great way to highlight Buffalo's historical sites! I wish I would have known about this event, I would have definitely made my way down to the harbor.

Buffalogni
Buffalogni

I went on a cruise that pulled into the Hong Kong harbor at the time in the evening when they do their light show. Multiple buildings are lit and the lights on each one change slightly in sequence with music that you can hear when you tune to a certain radio station. It is amazing.

I would love it if Buffalo started receiving lake cruise ships, and we treated the passengers to a light show on the grain elevators.

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

Fantastic news.

Sorry, but how has the Governor made "progress on the waterfront"? The funds were allocated before his being elected. Please advise.

grad94
grad94

did anyone catch it on video, by any chance?

14213
14213

YES! Huge yes to this!

Chris
Chris

Finally!! Let's celebrate these industrial marvels!

Buffalo loves to celebrate how we are different this is no different.

Hopefully it gets rid of the throw away line about "industrial wasteland" that always appears when publications review the area and replaces it with "largest collection of gain elevators in the world." Sounds much better, right.

DeanerPPX
DeanerPPX

I'd be more concerned about light pollution if this was the middle of nowhere, but we're talking about an urban area here literally in the shadows of downtown.

An entire economy depends upon the light pollution in Niagara Falls. Potentially a sacrifice worth making here too.

It is a fair concern to be addressed as the system gets tweaked, but not enough to 86 it after the first attempt. To me, a greater concern would be the cost and 'cleanliness' of the electricity used. If this can be partnered with renewable energy rather than drawing from the grid, it would be all the better to me.

jag
jag

Holy smokes, that first pic shows some major, needless light pollution. Hopefully that's not the norm. If it is, this gimmick is definitely not worth it in my eyes.

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