Press Release:

14-12- 99

Chicago riverfront beautification project no bull!

jpg (33504 bytes)Chicago, as the US’s third largest city, a city with a blue collar past and wholesome mid-America image, has always let L.A. and New York grab the glamour headlines.

Perhaps things are changing.

As part of a downtown beautification project, Chicago decided to add a touch of color to its Chicago Riverfront and called on Martin Professional to provide the illumination.

The Chicago Bridges project was initiated in March of 1998 when independent lighting designer Tracey Dear made a proposal to the city of Chicago to illuminate several of the cities historical draw bridges which span the Chicago River.

After lighting demonstrations and a bit of negotiation the project was accepted in January of 1999. The installation started in March 1999 and was completed later in the year.

The final project consists of the illumination of 11 bridges crossing the Chicago River in downtown Chicago, USA. Each bridge is illuminated with between 8 and 20 Martin Exterior 600 luminaires equipped with MSD 575 watt lamps. A total of 144 luminaires are used to illuminate the 11 bridges.

The Chicago River, an important landmark in this bustling town, flows from Lake Michigan through downtown Chicago. The main arm flows westward to Canal Road where it splits into a northern and southern branch. The banks of the river are adorned with several high rise buildings built by famous Rauhous architects, among them Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe.


jpg (22687 bytes)As all bridges are draw bridges and thus open up for the passage of sailing ships and other tall vessels, there is no connection between the two shores, no cable ducts or pipes. Therefore each side of the bridge has a separate control and power system.

From the project ‘s outset, it was intended for the bridges to be networked both individually or as a group. Therefore a total of 22 ProScenium PCs are used for lighting control. The Martin ProScenium is a PC-based multimedia DMX lighting control package which allows for complete lighting control and synchronization capabilities – even from a laptop. Thus all 11 bridges are perfectly in sync.

With synchronization of the 11 bridges and thus the 22 ProSceniums a necessity, a program called SocketWatch was implemented. SocketWatch is a tool which automatically retrieves the correct time from several universal time sources on the Internet. The astronomical clock feature in the ProScenium is used to start each Exterior 600 after sunset and the real time clock feature is used to turn off the fixtures at 2:00 AM.

jpg (13253 bytes)As each computer is accessible via a modem, the ProScenium controllers can be controlled remotely from any PC. This means that the lighting programmer can place himself in a good viewing position and access the controllers via a laptop, a mobile phone and the program "PC Anywhere". Program changes and updates can be made instantly.

Because the fixtures were completely pre-configured at Martin US in Florida prior to their shipment
to Chicago, the installation ran exceptionally smooth. The Exterior 600s are performing flawlessly
and the project has brought not only the city but the entire riverfront along the Chicago River to life.
Additionally, the city of Chicago has set up 4 web cams in prominent locations in order to monitor
the bridges (the web cams can also be accessed via the Internet.)

The bridges provide spectacular views from shoreside as well as from the water. A busy area for tourist boat traffic including architectural boat tours, the city beautification project has created not only a more attractive river waterfront but the increased illumination has made the bridges safer as well.

For more information contact PR Coordinator Larry Beck at Martin Professional on:

Telephone: +45 87 40 00 00, Telefax: +45 87 40 00 10, E-mail: