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New lights for the Jefferson Memorial

Nov. 1, 2003
Facing the White House and lying just across the Tidal Basin, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial has been given a facelift of sorts. The National Park Service,

Facing the White House and lying just across the Tidal Basin, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial has been given a facelift of sorts. The National Park Service, in partnership with the National Park Foundation and Osram Sylvania, has relit the white-marble memorial. Until recently, few of its millions of visitors have been able to fully appreciate its beauty due to constraints in the original lighting design.

But now the inside of the dome is fully illuminated by a new lighting design, and guests can take in every detail of the coffered ceiling inside the dome and the famous text frieze that soars nearly 92 feet above the marble rotunda.

Thanks to the subtle lighting effect created by new LED technology, the inscription on the text frieze, “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man,” is fully visible. It presents one of America's most-referenced historical quotes in a whole new light.

The new lighting design also results in an energy savings of 78 percent over the old system. The original energy requirement at the memorial was over 125,000 watts. The new design provides just over 25,000 watts to produce the same levels of light. This reduction in energy requirements also establishes an increase in system sustainability, so parts of the famous landmark will be illuminated for the first time.

“The energy model demonstrated by the lighting of the Jefferson Memorial is excellent and one that can be easily replicated throughout the country,” said Dean T. Langford, president and chief executive officer of Osram Sylvania. “By further reducing the energy consumption within our homes and businesses, we can all contribute to energy conservation, a matter that is on the minds of most Americans these days.”

The memorial's new lighting design, created by New York, N.Y.-based Mintz Lighting, utilizes Sylvania Metalarc high-intensity discharge (HID) metal-halide lamps throughout the interior and exterior. In addition, more than 17,000 light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which individually are no larger than a spot on the back of a ladybug, consume virtually no energy and last up to 100,000 hours, have been mounted inconspicuously around the interior circumference of the memorial's dome to illuminate the text frieze. The result is even, daylight-quality illumination and significant energy savings.

In areas where it is not convenient to regularly change lamps, Icetron lamps that last up to 100,000 hours have been installed. With normal use, the life expectancy of these lamps is nearly 11 years.

Osram Sylvania's contribution, valued in excess of $800,000 was made possible through the National Park Foundation, the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service. “Partnerships have long played an important role in enhancing the National Park visitor experience, and the Lighting of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial continues that tradition,” said Jim Maddy, president of the National Park Foundation. “U.S. monuments and memorials are designed to be educational, as well as to be places of reflection. The new atmosphere at the Jefferson Memorial helps the National Park Service achieve these goals in splendid fashion.”

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