Inspire – 1 OConnell St Sydney

  • 2019

  • Engineering

Commissioned By:

JLL Management

Designed In:


A Sydney CBD landmark from the early 1990s has always featured a distinctive spire which was lit in neon. Due to reliability and energy issues the neon was replaced with LED. This “older lady” is still majestic but with new technology is ready to party during major events and celebrations.

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  • The original brief in 2015 was to make the spire lighting more efficient and reliable, but not change in any way its appearance. Due to the very different nature of neon light to LED, and the installation location, extensive research was required to develop both lighting and access solutions.

  • The minimal ( but complex ) access solution that was implemented extended the original lighting upgrade programme by three years. This extra time allowed us to develop simple mounting and cabling systems which could be installed with one hand via "snap & lock methods as well as source lighting technology with many more features than was ever anticipated in 2015. The result is a robust & reliable lighting system that not only replicates the original neon light effects but does so using 50% less energy. The most visible extra feature of the upgarde is being able to programm the spire like a video screen.

  • The upgrade maintains the look of the original installation but is easier to maintain, requires much less maintenance and is much more resistant to storms damage. The most important feature of the upgrade is that the spire can help inspire viewers, becoming an active part of the city skyline and the ground level activity as it can be programmed to suit events and occasions. We are currently working through a range of events and content to ensure the contribution it makes is in-line with the building's brand and the City of Sydney's plans for an integrated and active city.

  • The colour matching of the deep blue neon was a particular challenge and involved the designers travelling great distances to technology fairs around the world to examine options ( a sacrifice we were prepared to make). Once this was resolved the selection of suitable resin coverage for the LED units proved challenging as did the matching of brightnesses on the building at night. The single point snap-in socket developed to hold the LED strips in place also took some development time as the placement of 4.8 long strips held from one end proved difficult to place in a 25mm wide socket when standing a parapet 200m above Sydney's streets. The project was a team effort with with a huge crew working in design, planning, installation and commissioing to make it work. We are looking forward to Vivdi 2019 to show off some of the things this spire can do.