The iconic Gas Light Building in downtown Milwaukee will shine a little brighter Wednesday when the LED system that lights the weather beacon “flame” lamp is replaced with upgraded technology.
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Since 2013, LED lighting has allowed for millions of colors to pass through the "flame" that provides a weather beacon atop the 86-year-old building at 626 E. Wisconsin Ave.
Now, new owners of the building have taken advantage of advances in LED technology and upgraded the historic 1930 Art Deco-styled office tower’s flame-shaped light that crowns the 20-story building.
“The Gas Light Building is a tremendous historic legacy,” said Richard Driehaus, a Chicago-based historic preservationist. “Old buildings tell us where we came from – both architecturally and socially. Preserving their beauty enhances our lives, our environments and respects our heritage.”
Chicago-based commercial real estate firm M & J Wilkow Ltd. purchased the Gas Light Building
in April 2015 for $20.5 million from 626 East LLC, a group of Wisconsin-based investors.
The 20-story, 131,727-square-foot Art Deco inspired building, was constructed in 1930 by the Wisconsin Gas Company and was designed by Eschweiler & Eschweiler.
The building is anchored by the United States Forest Service, which occupies 91,767 square feet on nine floors with a lease through August of 2023. The property also has a six-story, 212-space parking structure that was built in 2002.
The Gas Light Building was renovated in the mid-2000s at a cost of nearly $3 million. Additional improvements done in 2013 and in 2014, including façade repair, security system and parking garage enhancements and electric system upgrades, cost about $310,000.
The Gas Light Building will officially commemorate completion of the lighting project with a special lighting ceremony 6:15 p.m. Wednesday.
While the building will feature a new lighting pattern, the flame will continue to serve as a weather beacon indicating the forecast by its color and flicker (red light for warm weather, gold for cold weather, blue for no change in the weather, blinking light for precipitation).
With the new technology, the flame’s weather prediction is autonomously controlled, allowing it to remotely access and integrate with local weather systems. Eleven different weather stations around Milwaukee will be used to determine the flame’s color.