Focus Lighting

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Behind the Scenes, Features, holidays, Technology

How the Times Square Ball is made

By Dana Schulz, Thu, December 26, 2019

The 2007 Times Square Ball during construction. Image courtesy of Focus Lighting.

When midnight hits this New Year’s Eve, the Times Square Ball will dazzle people just the same from five feet away or on their television. Making this magic happen is no easy feat, though. To learn a bit more about how the nearly 12,000-pound ball was created, we chatted with principal designer Christine Hope of Focus Lighting, the architectural lighting design firm who conceptualized the current ball more than 10 years ago. From engineering a new system to make all 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles sparkle to dreaming up the magical light show that plays leading up to the ball drop, Focus Lighting shares the inside scoop on this world-famous tradition.

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Art, Design, Harlem

Renderings by Focus Lighting

Harlem-based architectural lighting firm Focus Lighting has worked on some pretty impressive projects here in NYC, from the Times Square ball to the Waldorf Astoria. But they’re also getting involved in their local community, thinking about how they can transform the Riverside Drive Viaduct–a 50-foot-tall elevated steel roadway that runs from 125th to 135th Streets. As the firm notes, during the day, the structure’s grand arches serve as a picturesque background to the neighborhood and the Hudson River, but at night, they “go completely unlit and unutilized.” Their proposal, called The Arches of Harlem, seeks to incorporate a new programmable lighting composition every three months, each one “inspired by select works of historic artists and emerging local talent.”

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Featured Story

Design, Features, Harlem, Where I Work

6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring the Harlem office of architectural lighting design firm Focus Lighting. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!

After spending many years designing theatrical lighting, Paul Gregory decided to transition into the world of architectural lighting. He started his career working on nightclubs and in 1987, founded his own firm in his neighborhood of Harlem. Eight years later, Paul and his team at Focus Lighting garnered international recognization for their work on the Entel Tower in Santiago Chile, the world’s first automated color-changing building. Since then, the firm has grown to have 35 employees and nabs commissions such as the Times Square ball, Tavern on the Green, and the Waldorf Astoria (and that’s just here in NYC).

But through all their success, Focus has kept their offices in Harlem, now at 116th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, where their close-knit employees work collaboratively. The converted loft space has a unique light lab, similar to a black box theater, as well as a gallery space where the team can test out new means of digital architecture and video projects. 6sqft recently visited Focus Lighting to learn more about their fascinating work, tour the space, and chat with Focus partner and principal designer Brett Andersen and principal designer Christine Hope. Read more

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