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Harborview beacon to light up Baltimore skyline

HarborView Towers, a condominium complex on the Inner Harbor, aims to become an iconic part of the Baltimore skyline now that it has revamped the beacon atop its east tower.

"[It's] new and exciting, and I think people are just going to love it," said John Cochran, president of the council of unit owners at HarborView Towers.

The new beacon on the building off Key Highway uses energy-efficient light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, which are not only environmentally friendly and cost-efficient, but offer the opportunity for ever-changing displays.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will flip the switch to turn the beacon for the first official lighting about 8:45 p.m. Tuesday with state delegates Peter Hammen and Brian McHale along with HarborView Towers' representatives.

The lights, which cost the condo owners' council $150,000 but will reduce the beacon's power bill by 87 percent, can change colors and patterns with the flick of a switch. The council plans to change displays for different holidays and when Baltimore's sports teams win. Tonight's light show will preview the different holidays in the year, beginning with New Year's Eve and ending with Christmas. The next show likely will be for an Orioles win.

When it's not a special night or holiday, white lights will dance in patterns — dimming and brightening to add interest to the skyline.

The decision to replace the lights in the beacon, which were previously fluorescent bulbs and didn't allow for light shows, came on the heels of an Environmental Protection Agency initiative to phase out fluorescent bulbs in 2007. Equipment necessary to keep the beacon as it was ceased to be available and the condo owners' council had already begun a project to revamp the towers, built in 1990.

"I see the Baltimore skyline as not having an iconic structure like the Empire State Building," Cochran said. "I think this beautiful building the Design Collective built in 1990 can be the iconic structure of Baltimore, with the light [being] a magnet for people everywhere."

dmking@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danaeking

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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