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National Lift Tower Transformed for Olympics

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The National Lift Tower

Transformations for the opening of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

The Northampton Lighthouse, also known as the National Lift Tower, in Northampton, U.K., signaled 2,012 hr. to go before the official opening of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which began July 27. Laser light art was installed at the tower by British artist Jo Fairfax and the FLOW team, an outdoor visual-arts program. On May 4-5, the National Lift Tower transformed into its local namesake, the Northampton Lighthouse, when two 20-W laser beams projected simultaneously for 15-30 s. on a North/South axis, then switched to an East/West axis. In addition, high-powered LED lighting with changing colors was projected up the sides of the tower.

The 127-m-tall National Lift Tower is one of only two lift testing towers in Europe and was designed by architect Maurice Walton and built by the Express Lift Co. in Northampton. In November, the National Lift Tower will commemorate 30 years since its official opening by Queen Elizabeth II on November 12, 1982. The tower was reopened for business in October 2009 and is used by lift companies for R&D, testing and marketing (ELEVATOR WORLD, February 2010). There are six lift shafts of varying heights and speeds, including a high-speed shaft with a travel of 100 m and a theoretical maximum speed of 10 mps.

FLOW was funded by the Arts Council England, European Regional Development Fund, Northamptonshire County Council and Legacy Trust U.K. The National Lift Tower is a regional, if not national, landmark that signals both the gateway to the Midlands and the North, and to the southeast of England. The laser-art installation was truly spectacular, as Northamptonshire continues to develop its national reputation for pioneering contemporary visual and digital art. Even though the light installation was dismantled May 6, it may be reinstalled permanently in hopes the tower is used as an icon for the region.                                        

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