Denver has a rich history of infrastructure and cultural development. It initially started as a small gold-rush town. Now, it boasts the 10th largest downtown area in America, complete with the nation’s biggest city park system. It also has five professional sports stadiums and the second-largest performing arts complex in the country.
Choosing the Display Experts
The Theatre District is a 16-block area in the heart of downtown Denver. The pedestrian-minded locale is a focal point for the city, enlivened through interactive, immersive and experimental art and events. Recently, The Denver Theatre District created plans to add a projection mapping display on one of its iconic buildings.
Orange Barrel Media established plans that would utilize the Daniels and Fisher Tower. The tower stands 325 feet tall and is located in the center of the Theatre District. Orange Barrel Media sought out a team to design a solution that would be visually stunning and non-damaging to the 100-plus-year-old building. Project leaders deemed large-scale display experts Digital Projection and Display Devices the best candidates to tackle the project.
Creating Art out of Static Structures
The Daniels and Fisher tower is in the middle of the 16th Street Mall, just between lower and upper downtown. Complete with a plaza, this foot-traffic heavy location emerged as a spot that would be ideal for a projection mapping solution.
David Schmitt, director of sales and business development at Display Devices, describes the project. He states, “Anytime you get to work on an architecturally and historically significant building, it feels amazing and with projection mapping…creating ever-evolving art out of beautiful but static structures.”
Schmitt then compliments both Digital Projection and Display Devices, saying there is a very natural synergy between the two companies. He adds, “That natural crossover allows for intuitive, high-caliber cooperation, which results in showpiece displays like this one.”
A Transformative Experience
The unified team of Display Devices and Digital Projection began designing the display solution. The team selected a parking garage across the plaza for their technical base of operations. The end result was an environmentally controlled walk-in structure housing 10 of Digital Projection’s M-Vision 21000 WU projectors. It is engineered to withstand the harshest of Denver weather. The simple but high-tech structure thus allows the city team to work inside for hands-on adjustments and calibrations. It also enabled the team to program, schedule and display content remotely from a home office.
Up to 210,000 lumens of color-rich content power the Daniels and Fisher tower, transforming it through light-based art. It is now known as Night Lights Denver. The display is an ongoing visual experience that showcases innovative works from both local and international artists. It features fresh content each month with rotating art collections including professional photography, animation, live action video and civic messaging.
Night Lights Denver with ‘The People’s Projector’
Night Lights Denver has become one of Denver’s more meaningful attractions. It holds nightly shows from Tuesday through Sunday evenings. David Moke, director of programming, explains the significance of the attraction. Moke says, “When we put together a program, our goal is not only to entertain the people of Denver, but also for them to take pride in their city by coming and hanging out downtown.” He adds, “We like to include art that is heavier and cerebral but also balanced with fun and entertainment.”
Moke further emphasizes that it is not a billboard, but a cultural enrichment through art and entertainment. He proclaims, “…We’re not public art — we’re art in the public.”
David Ehrlich, executive director of the Denver Theatre District, echoes this sentiment. He adds, “Night Lights Denver has become the perfect way to expand our connection to the art world in Denver on every level. We call it ‘the people’s projector’ because of the enormous amount of content we share with the entire city through a platform that virtually every kind of artist can use.”
Encouraging Public Response
According to a statement, the public responded positively to the display experience. “The people are absolutely thrilled and have already adopted it as part of the city. This is the most vibrant thing we have downtown,” Moke says.
Mike Akridge, vice president of operations at Digital Projection, adds, “…During our pre-activation testing, as soon as the first images were projected onto the tower, people immediately started gathering on their own — smiling, laughing, taking selfies and videos, etc.” He continues, “You don’t often get a chance to work on something of this size, at a location this iconic, so we were happy to see that the people were just as excited as we were.”
Building Community Through Art
The display also had many impactful moments, according to a statement. One such moment occurred when the city showcased artwork created by some of its elementary school students. Ehrlich explains, “This really resonated with the city because anyone with kids has their artwork hung up somewhere in their house. It’s a pretty common thing — but when shown on the tower downtown, it created something akin to a shared living room for Denver itself. And that really builds community because it helps people find what they have in common.”
You can experience Night Lights Denver firsthand every Tuesday through Sunday evening from sunset to midnight from virtually anywhere in the Theatre District.
Click on “View Slideshow” on the upper-right corner for all images of the installation.