Bromo Seltzer Tower - Baltimore, MD

Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower - Baltimore, Maryland

This historic structure, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was modeled after the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. It was completed in 1911 and has been a Baltimore landmark ever since. The tower was designed by Joseph Evans Sperry and built by Captain Isaac Emerson, the inventor of Bromo-Seltzer. The tower was originally topped with a 51-foot revolving replica of the blue Bromo-Seltzer bottle, which was illuminated by 596 lights and could be seen from 20 miles away. The four clock faces are all still working; however, the bottle had to be removed in 1936 due to structural concerns.

Spears / Votta & Associates, Inc. (SVA) worked closely with Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) and Grenald Associates to design a new facade lighting system for the historic Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower. The existing exterior lighting on this Baltimore landmark had deteriorated to a point where it was unusable. The design objective was to light the upper portion of the exterior of the structure from all sides, to illuminate the clock faces on all sides, and to recreate the feel of the original blue Bromo-Seltzer bottle which once adorned the top of the structure.

Illuminating the facade was a difficult task due to the building's location on the corner of Eutaw and Lombard Streets, with a fire station situated tight on the north and east sides. Lighting for the south and west facades was accomplished through poles located across the streets and tied into the street lighting system. Lighting for the north and east facades was only possible through a coordinated effort with the fire department allowing roof mounted floodlights for which SVA designed custom supports. The clock faces are lit internally.

The most distinguishing feature of this lighting project is the blue glow that appears from the cupola atop the tower. SVA accomplished this effect through the application of lighting principles not generally addressed by the lighting design community: paint the interior surfaces at the top of the tower "Bromo-Seltzer" blue, and reflect white light off of the blue surfaces. This simple solution has the added benefit of not only working at night, but also allowing the "Bromo-Seltzer" blue to shine during daylight hours as well.

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