Let there be light

Tower Beacon System Photo without mirrors

Tower Beacon System Photo without mirrorsHoly Family parishioner helps create “beacon of hope” at Ground Zero

Pat Shea
Sun associate editor

A visitor to Holy Family Church in Fairmount might notice Tom Trytek looking up at the lighting. Nothing’s wrong, it’s just an occupational hazard.

   Trytek is vice president of TDK Engineering Associates in Camillus, a structural design company that has worked on many theatrical-rigging designs for lights. The company was recently involved in the design of the light beacon for One World Trade Center, or the building formerly referred to as The Freedom Tower. The structure, which will house a combination of residential, retail and office space on its 104 floors, stands at 1,776 feet, making it one of the tallest buildings in the country. It’s a building that not only pays tribute to an outstanding architectural design, but to the many who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

   On the very top of this impressive skyscraper will sit a 408-foot-tall spire with the beacon of light shining in one-minute rotations, brightly enough to be seen 15 miles in any direction. Thanks to Trytek and two other companies, J.R. Clancy, Inc, of Van Buren and Blair Construction & Fabrication of Auburn, the spire and beacon bring more than just a little bit of Central New York technological expertise to the project.

   “I can’t ever imagine topping the importance of this job at this particular site,” stated Trytek. “Every one of us who worked on the project feel fortunate to have worked on this job, and we never lost sight of what happened here. It’s been an extremely humbling process.”

   J.R. Clancy initially brought TDK Engineering on to the One World Trade Center project team. “We were brought in as a subcontractor,” explained Trytek. “We’ve done a lot of work with J.R. Clancy in the past and have always worked well together. And with a project like this, with layers upon layers involved, you want to work with good people. The first step we took was to review the original beacon concept that had been designed previously.”

   During the review process, Trytek realized that the beacon called for “energy hog” bulbs on an eight-kettle drum container. A major fault of such lights for a project of this type, explained Trytek, is these lights have an approximately 750-hour lifespan, which requires them to be upgraded every eight or nine months.

   “Changing lights like these are a whole lot harder than changing say, a standard light bulb that burns out in your house,” laughed Trytek. “The kettle drums are massive and an engineer would practically have to change the light in mid-air, and considering the height of the building, you are talking about really high winds.”

   To combat this problem, Trytek proposed a new concept: using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) along with a rotating mirror system. Trytek explained the mirror system would cause the beam of light to move, shining on two sides of the beacon. In addition, the LED design has a lifespan of 50,000 hours, taking approximately 10 years before it would require an upgrade or replacing. And should an area of the LED require replacing, only ten percent of the lighting application would be lost, which would be barely noticeable. “The LED is a smart way of doing things,” explained Trytek.

   The beacon was constructed in 16 sectional “petals” and pieced together on-site. Every piece was designed to be completely removable.

   In April, the spire and beacon were placed on top of the tower in an unofficial ceremony. An official ceremony is tentatively planned for July.

   With this project completed, Trytek looks forward to expanding into new areas and new projects where he can bring his expertise to help other organizations save money.

   “Whenever I look up at the lights at our church at Holy Family, I think how the church could save so much money using LEDs,” laughed Trytek. “If you think how many fluorescent tubes a school uses, even if they chose an LED system which can be initially pricier, they can actually save two-thirds of their energy costs just by using this type of technology. It’s really amazing.”

   For more information on TDK Engineering Associates and the LED system for One World Trade Center, contact (315) 672-8726.

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