Gulf Tower - Lighting


Prior to the late 1970s, the entire multistory "step-pyramid/mausoleum" structure at the top of the building was neon-illuminated, changing colors to provide a weather forecast that could be seen for many miles. This concept was developed by the building manager Edward H. Heath. He used the Gulf Oil colors to create a simplified forecast: steady blue meant colder and fair; flashing blue meant colder with precipitation; steady orange meant warmer and fair; flashing orange meant warmer with precipitation. Subsequently, in an effort to conserve energy, the weather forecasting role had been limited to the weather beacon at the pinnacle of the pyramid, which would glow blue for precipitation and red for fair weather. Although the terraced sides were once again illuminated at night (by means of spotlights), the entire pyramid structure no longer changed color with the weather (the pinnacle beacon still had that function).

Original Weather Beacon

Blue - steady - precipitation & rising temperature Blue - flashing - precipitation & falling temperature Orange red - steady - fair weather & rising temperature Orange red - flashing - fair weather & falling temperature

Since 2001, the opening of PNC Park across the Allegheny River, fans have noticed that after Pittsburgh Pirates home-runs, the "beam" light flashes in celebration. Recently it was revealed that the afternoon and evening receptionist at the lobby desk was the one responsible for this fan favorite, following the games on her cabinet radio. The slogan "Flash the beam, Regina -- that one's out of here!" has gained popularity among Pirates fans recently.

The KDKA Weather Beacon, the most recent weather beacon to adorn the pyramid atop the tower, was officially dedicated on July 4, 2012. In partnership with KDKA-TV, the Gulf Tower has been retrofit with a modern, automated LED weather beacon that will tell a more complete forecast than ever before. It will also feature holiday displays. Hearkening back to the original 1950's beacon, the entire pyramid will once again change colors at night depending on the current weather conditions. The new color coded, tiered system works as such:

Floor By Floor Breakdown

  • 44th floor – temperature
  • 43rd floor – temperature
  • 42nd floor – temperature
  • 41st floor – precipitation
  • 40th floor – humidity
  • 39th floor – wind speed
Temperature Dark blue – <0 °F (−18 °C) Med blue – 0 to 32 °F (-18 to 0 °C) Light blue – 33 to 49 °F (1 to 9 °C) Amber – 50 to 65 °F (10 to 18 °C) Orange – 66 to 79 °F (19 to 26 °C) Red – >80 °F (27 °C)
Precipitation Red purple – >.25 in (0.64 cm) Blue purple – ≤.25 in (0.64 cm)
Humidity Light green – <50% Dark green – ≥50%
Wind Speed Magenta – >10 mph (16 km/h) Pink – ≤10 mph (16 km/h)

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