Edison Memorial Tower: Honoring the Father of the Incandescent Light Bulb

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Thomas A. Edison Memorial Tower

The 118-foot Thomas A. Edison Memorial Tower in Menlo Park, NJ glows spectacularly from dawn to dusk – truly an ode to the building’s namesake. Its recent lighting upgrade, designed by The Lighting Practice, was featured in the January 2017 issue of LD+A.

In an interview with the magazine, TLP Principal Al Borden noted that relighting this structure, which honors the inventor of the first commercially practical incandescent electric light bulb, was a particularly personal project. “Mr. Edison’s invention gave me my career, so I owe him a lot,” Al told LD+A. “It is a tiny job, but the use of a disruptive technology to memorialize the inventor of the deposed technology was a unique juxtaposition for me.”

TLP was tasked with updating the façade’s lighting system in addition to internally illuminating the special focal point on the monument. Atop the tower is a 14-foot-tall glass incandescent lamp replica, which TLP upgraded with retrofitted with LEDs. The color of the globe is tuned to be reminiscent of an old light bulb. “The idea was to create the amber tone of the early incandescent,” Al told the magazine.

The lighting design team at TLP is proud to have been a part of the relighting of this iconic monument honoring Edison’s work.

 

Thomas A. Edison Memorial Tower

LD+A | January 2017

The Thomas A. Edison Memorial Tower at Menlo Park in Edison, NJ, is certainly not the largest or most complex installation The Lighting Practice, Philadelphia, has ever worked on, but its namesake allowed the designer to reflect on how far our profession has come. “Mr. Edison’s invention gave me my career, so I owe him a lot. Working on the memorial made the enormity of his accomplishments very real for me,” says Alfred Borden, principal, TLP. “It is a tiny job, but the use of a disruptive technology to memorialize the inventor of the deposed technology was a unique juxtaposition for me.”

Built in 1937, the tower, measuring 114 ft-2 in., is topped by a 14-ft-tall Py-rex glass globe—in essence, a sculptural bulb. The new lighting enabled the globe and its interior to be preserved, while “a few damaged areas of the bulb were replaced out of the original attic stock,” Borden says. The original light source inside the globe was incandescent—naturally—but was retrofit-ted with quartz halogen about 30 years ago. “Most of them were inoperable by the time we started on the project in 2009,” says Borden.

Read the full article: Thomas A. Edison Memorial Tower [p. 36-37]

Architect: Mills + Schnoering Architects

Photography by Aislinn Weidele

Thomas A. Edison Memorial Tower

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