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Iowa’s Heavenly Haven

On the night of August 19, 2016, church bells chimed as lights arose to unveil the beautiful architecture of downtown Burlington. With awe and admiration, chatter among the crowd began; the dream to light up the historic architecture of Burlington has now become reality. The Burlington skyline is now shining bright thanks to LED technology and the Burlington Lightscape Project. This is the first example of coordinated architectural lighting in the world.

See the Video Story: Here

After years of preparation, the Downtown Partners Design Committee inaugurated the Burlington Lightscape Project. Funds were raised to illuminate the remarkable architecture, accentuating its beauty for residents and visitors alike. A team of business professionals, lighting consultants, and building owners and congregations worked to turn this vision into a reality. The project was 100% privately funded. An endowment was
established to cover maintenance; the only cost to the building owners is for the electricity, which is minimal, due to the use of LED fixtures. On August 19, 2016, the completed steeple and tower lighting phase of the Lightscape Project was marked with a public celebration. The nine buildings in the project, as well as the depot locomotive at 300 S. Main, are illuminated every night.

Example of full colored drawing visualization

The initial planning process consisted of Energyficient’s design team creating scaled drawings in a specialized lighting design software to provide a full color visualization of what the lighting may look like when complete.  Those renderings were an integral part of the fund-raising aspect of the project.  “I don’t think we would have had as much luck fund-raising without those drawings and full color images. The time and money spent creating them was well worth it,” said Palmer. The money raised went towards planning the lighting projects, installing the equipment, and establishing a foundation to cover ongoing maintenance and utility costs.

Preparing for construction

The construction phase posed many complications: such as trying to erect light poles into concrete in the busy metropolitan area of downtown, as well as needing to adjust the installation process to buildings nestled in bluffs and steep slopes, as Burlington is located on a bluff itself. Once the construction was finished, the process was not over yet. Once the lights were installed they needed to be individually positioned for each church, to ensure the best results and efficiency of the lights. This was time consuming, but very important to the final stages of the project. A group of Graphic Communications students from Southeastern Community College created a short video showcasing the entirety of the project from pre-construction to lighting of the steeples. The video was publicly viewed the night of the grand lighting ceremony. The lighting, once completed, left the town buzzing about just how beautiful the city truly is.

The group will next turn its attention to relighting the Great River Bridge and installing complimentary lighting to accentuate Snake Alley. Additional funding is needed to ensure the continued success of the Lightscape Project. The money raised will go towards designing the lighting, installing the equipment, and increasing the maintenance endowment.

Burlington hopes that by lighting up its historic skyline along the Mississippi, locals and visitors will be inspired to engage with the city in new ways. Pledges and donations to the Burlington Lightscape Project are tax deductible. For more information, call Downtown Partners at 319-752-6365 or visit Your support will create a legacy of beauty and pride for our community.