On any given night, the Duke Energy Center Uptown seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to lighting up. Rainbow for Pride events, stars and patriotic colors for American holidays, red for heart awareness.
More often, the city skyline as a whole is lit up white, or has reduced brightness as part of a commitment to Envision Charlotte sustainability measures. Building managers and owners can select a color if they wish to honor a charity event or holiday.
But what about the nights when major buildings across the skyline light up with the same colors?
Moira Quinn, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Communications for Charlotte Center City Partners, coordinates that colorful lighting across Center City.
Quinn sends out a note to the building owners or managers with the request to temporarily light their building tops a certain color — like Carolina Panthers blue for game day, or green and red during the holiday season.
Quinn, who calls herself “just the convener,” remembers urging the skyline to light up during the Panthers’ first Super Bowl run. Nostalgia.
These days, the contacts on her list include the Ally Center, the Carillon, Duke Energy Center, Mecklenburg County Parks and Rec (they can light features like the fountain at Romare Bearden Park), Skyhouse, The Vue, City of Charlotte and 300 South Tryon.
A big point of coordinating lights is making Charlotte stand out.
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“It’s also for the city of Charlotte and for everybody who has a chance to see it,” Quinn said. “It’s for city pride.”
Quinn has been coordinating skyline colors for about 14 years and said the color change used to be quite the ordeal.
Buildings like the Bank of America corporate center used to have to send a crew up to place color sheets in front of the lights in order to affect the color scheme. It was not only difficult, but expensive.
Then the Duke Energy Center joined the skyline in 2009 and changed the game with LED lights.
“They set a new standard for animating the skyline,” Quinn said.
For the past three to five years, switching skyline colors has no longer been a massive undertaking. Quinn tries to send out her requests a week to 10 days in advance, and most building managers can set the lights with computers.
Keep an eye out for the illuminated hues of the Queen City skyline as we enter the holiday season.
Photo: Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer