San Francisco City Hall

Centennial Celebration


Digital Multimedia Projection System at City Hall

The Centennial Planning Committee is working with Obscura Digital to install a lighting design system that would coordinate with the LED lighting. Hardware will be installed in various locations on City Hall and in the Civic Center Area to project lighting designs onto the façade of City Hall. These designs will be used to create an extraordinary visual display and will create a “wow” moment for the public that will be shown during the Centennial Celebration on Friday, June 19, 2015. Obscura Digital will use architectural projections to transform the façade of the City Hall into a luminous portal that takes the audience on a visual and creative journey through the history and stories behind the building.


All VIP contributors will be invited to this major event and magnificent light show, along with other special commemorative activities. After the Centennial Celebration, the Committee plans to donate a permanent lighting installation that will bathe City Hall in light displays for many years to come.


In addition to incorporating this lighting design into the Centennial Celebration, the installation of the lighting infrastructure will permit the City to utilize the design system for other events and civic engagements.


Obscura Digital is a well-known San Francisco-based company that specializes in digital arts that has produced a great number of outdoor architectural projects including the San Francisco Symphony’s Black and White Ball, the Exploratorium, Legion of Honor and Sydney Opera House’s Outdoor Architectural Projects.


LED Lighting Installation

San Francisco City Hall, a National Historic Landmark building, illuminates the exterior of the building every evening with over 220 incandescent lighting fixtures. This lighting provides illumination of the facades of the building, the drum and dome. The building is visible from almost everywhere in the City, providing iconic views for the citizens and visitors alike.


Frequently, the lighting of the building evolves to a colorful display of light to celebrate various civic functions from Giants baseball, the Pride Celebration, autism awareness, domestic violence prevention, and private events held at City Hall requiring special colors to add to the festive nature of the event.


Lighting the building and changing the colors of those lights has been a very popular but expensive proposition for the City. To light the building, the fixtures in place use over 31,600 watts to provide the brilliance to be visible throughout the City. When City Hall is asked to color the lights, it requires an extensive operation of manually installing theatrical gels to each and every one of the 220 fixtures. This means assigning two to three building staff members, plus a crew of four staff from the lighting contractor to spend almost three hours crawling in and out of windows and onto the rooftop to access all the fixtures, rain or shine. For removal of the gels, the whole process happens in reverse.


As City Hall moves into its second century, the time to rethink the lighting of the building has come. Lighting technology has turned away from incandescent lighting to LED lighting. Efficiency, increased life expectancy, and the flexibility of adding color at the touch of a control panel are the hallmarks of LED technology. By replacing the existing lighting fixtures with LED fixtures, City Hall will reduce the daily wattage use by almost half, from 31,600 watts to 14,120 watts. Adding to the power savings is the expected lifespan of the LED fixtures. Incandescent lights have a rated lifetime of 4,000 hours – or a bit over two years at approximately eight hours of use per day. LED fixtures emit

light for 50,000 hours of operation or more – over 17 years at eight hours a day.


By reducing the wattage in use, delivering color changes via a control panel, and extending the hours of life for each light fixture, a new LED system will yield a 70% reduction in total exterior lighting cost. In addition to these savings, the LED lighting systems provide sharp and colorful lighting on a level never achieved before at City Hall.




City Hall Documentary Film

With the help of our wonderful City Hall Docent Manager Ellen Schumer and volunteers, SF City Archivist Susan Goldstein and the City Librarian Luis Herrera, we are creating a documentary that will feature San Francisco’s iconic City Hall and showcase the past, present and future of the great City and County of San Francisco.


A documentary film, The People’s Palace, will be produced which will showcase San Francisco City Hall throughout the last one hundred years. The film will take a close look back at the building project that literally rose from the rubble of the 1906 earthquake, refocused the hopes and dreams of the City’s resilient citizenry, and firmly established San Francisco as a world-class city. For the past 100 years, San Francisco’s City Hall has been a source of inspiration and aspiration to all who entered its soaring public spaces and elegant chambers – from politicians and civic leaders to everyday citizens and visitors from around the globe. The People’s Palace captures the artistic and architectural accomplishments as well as the historic and personal events and stories that make San Francisco City Hall a symbol of human achievement, and underscores the importance of its preservation as a legacy for future generations.


The documentary will be aired on television in partnership with KQED and will be promoted to coincide with the Centennial Celebration. The documentary will feature footage of City Hall from the past as well as the present. Interviews with civic leaders will be included to provide colorful and personal accounts of experiences in the building. Additional footage featuring San Francisco’s development and growth over the years will provide an overall point of reference for this historical landmark.


The film will be produced by Jim Yager, Emmy Award-winning director and producer. The film is intended for television viewing as well as public accessibility at various public buildings.


You will have an opportunity for a sneak preview of the documentary at the Centennial kickoff event.


Your donation assists with the creation of the documentary that will help showcase our fine city. All the major donors will be acknowledged at the end of documentary film.


©CCSF 2015