The Tree of Lights at Pittsburgh’s Point State Park was an annual holiday tree that became a local icon. For more than 30 years, it helped the city kick off the holiday season and was a cherished symbol of hope and light for visitors, tourists and local residents. It was traditionally the city’s first major tree to be lit before Thanksgiving and would shine for more than a month, often being taken down in early January after Eastern Orthodox Christmas. The tree — which stood at the park’s famous Point near the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers — ended its historic run in January 2022.
As the tree’s originator, Duquesne Light Company (DLC) is committed to sustaining its memory and legacy through a new and more modern light display. With your help, the Pittsburgh-based electric utility plans to replace the former structure while upholding the tradition the region has enjoyed for several decades.
Over the coming months, DLC will ask for your ideas and plans for a new instalment at Point State Park to replace the Tree of Lights and carry on its celebrated tradition. More details will be posted here as the weeks progress, so please follow this challenge and share it with others who you think would like to contribute or who have interest in following its development.
For more than 30 years, Duquesne Light Company (DLC) maintained the iconic Tree of Lights at Pittsburgh’s Point State Park. It traditionally kicked off the region’s holiday season by being the first major tree to be lit in the city before Thanksgiving. It would shine for more than a month, often withstanding harsh winter weather, before being taken down in early January after Eastern Orthodox Christmas. In its 30-plus years, the tree became more than a holiday symbol. It was also a beacon of light for the Pittsburgh region, standing tall at the famous confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers.
The tree was an 80-foot structure consisting of a central beam; 42 strands of holiday lights and garland; and a 25-foot radius where six fasteners are driven into the ground to secure the structure.
Point State Park is a historic landmark with great significance to the city of Pittsburgh and its traditions. It stands at the city's center and is the point at which the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers converge to form the Ohio River. The Point is visible from many vantage points throughout the city. The park itself is designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. As a result, the property has limitations on how the land can be used and maintained. These considerations are crucial to the design of the next light display that will replace the Tree of Lights at Point State Park.
Historical and Community Inspiration; Inclusion
The Tree of Lights is an icon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The new solution should be a fitting replacement for the longstanding tradition that local residents and visitors came to love over the years. The area where the former tree stood — and where the next solution will also stand — holds historical significance for Pittsburgh and the entire country. When reviewing your submission, it should be evident that consideration was given to the historical significance of the location. That significance should be represented in the design considerations for this competition.
Like many holiday symbols in the city, the current design is meant to represent what is important to those living in and visiting Pittsburgh during the holiday season. All designs and their accompanying descriptions should reflect the insight and research that inspired them. They should also consider the many diverse communities that make up the Pittsburgh region. Inclusion will be a critical factor in the new solution.
Longevity and Maintenance
The Tree of Lights was constructed in 1988. For more than 30 years, it withstood harsh Pittsburgh winters at one of the city’s most weather-impacted points. The tree was subjected to flooding, high snowfall and powerful winds. While some repairs were required over the years, the tree itself and its core components remained intact. Your submission should demonstrate how the new solution will endure over the years and become a new holiday and winter focal point for Pittsburgh. A solution that doesn’t factor in this kind of durability will not have the same impact in the community.
Because the initial development and installation costs will be higher than the annual cost for reinstalling an established light display, you should provide both an initial construction and installation cost as well as an annual cost.
The first-year costs should be no higher than $200,000. The budget for the Tree of Lights was approximately $75,000 a year for both set-up and take-down. New solutions should consider that budget, and you should provide a rationale for all of your estimated costs.
DLC is committed to environmental sustainability and reducing its energy footprint. We want to know how your solution may do the same. Solutions should consider renewable energy or energy efficiency. You should also consider other aspects of environmental sustainability, including waste reduction, water protection and wildlife protection, as appropriate.
Construction, Delivery and Installation at Point State Park
The submitting team must be able to show how they will finalize the design, build and install by mid-November of 2022. Per the challenge timeline, DLC anticipates announcing the prize winner in late May 2022. The company will then work closely with the winner to finalize the contract so that the winning team can complete the build and implementation of the solution.
In your submission, you should detail a plan to construct and test the solution from June through October; deliver the solution to Point State Park; and then install the solution in November. Keep in mind that the park has various sensitive areas that need to be considered in your plan to deliver and install the solution (see map).
Describe the plan to install the solution and whether it requires specialized installers from the design team. The Tree of Lights was typically removed in early January and stored until the following November. You should also describe the requirements for storing the solution when it’s not in use. Additional considerations for construction, delivery and installation can be reviewed in the Resources tab.
Safety is a core component of DLC’s culture and should be reflected in the design, implementation and maintenance of the solution. The design should consider the safety of those who may view it from various vantage points, including the walkways around the Point; nearby hotels; and higher angles such as the Mount Washington viewpoint. The safety of the boats in the river should also be considered. You must be able to safely deliver, install and remove the solution in potential winter weather conditions.
DLC is offering up to five prizes (totalling $15,000). The primary goal of this challenge is for DLC to award a contract for the construction and implementation of the 2022 display and, if applicable, a contract for yearly installation. It is also possible the contract would be for the purchase of the solution, and DLC will manage installation.
In addition to the first-place winner receiving a potential contract, DLC intends to award the following cash prizes:
|Best in Class (Most Creative Solution)|
|Total Prize Purse|
*Note: Contracts with DLC beyond the challenge competition are not guaranteed and carry separate funding and budget than this challenge’s prize purse. Additional cost and budget documentation and negotiations may be required.
Potential contracts for first-place winner:
1. First-year construction and set-up: Not to exceed $200,000.
2. Subsequent yearly set-up: Will be detailed in the solution submission, and will be negotiated at the time a contract is created.
Pre-registration begins Jan. 6, 2022
Open to submissions Feb. 3, 2022
Submission deadline April 13, 2022, @ 5 p.m. ET
Judging April 14 to June 28, 2022
Winners announced July 1, 2022
To be eligible for an award, your proposal must, at minimum:
|Historical and Community Inspiration; Inclusion|
How relevant is the solution to Pittsburgh, the Point, their history or the current community?
How well does the solution visually meld into the park’s landscape?
How well does the design reflect the diversity of the region and the inclusion of the holiday season?
|Longevity and Maintenance|
How likely is the solution to be maintainable every year for a long period of time (e.g., 10-20 years)?
Is the technology that’s being implemented currently or potentially at risk of becoming obsolete or being replaced in the near future?
How cost effective is the solution?
How sustainable is the cost over a long period of time (e.g., 10-12 years)?
How thoughtful is the use of energy-efficient resources?
How thoughtful is the solution's use of other resources?
|Engineering and Implementation|
How feasible is the solution?
How visible will the solution be based on its design and placement?
How experienced and capable is the team proposing to construct the solution?
All elements of the submission must be completed and submitted by the deadline: April 13th, 2022.
|Team||Describe your team and any subcontractors you plan to work with to complete the build, delivery and installation of the solution. What are the relevant experiences and expertise represented by your team? What additional resources or expertise will you need to successfully develop and install your design? What is your plan for addressing those gaps?|
(1000 char max)
|Engineering and Implementation|
Describe your design in detail, including:
(9500 char max)
Discuss your design’s longevity, including:
(2000 char max)
|Environmental Sustainability||Describe the efficiency of the lighting solutions or any other energy consumption of the solution. Describe the incorporation of renewable energy, if any, and the other environmental sustainability considerations you have made in your design.|
(1000 char max)
|Cost||Provide a detailed budget for first-year development and installation of the solution that includes a bill of materials tied to the design schematic. Also provide a budget for its annual installation and deinstallation in successive years.|
(2000 char max)
|Historical and Community Inspiration; Inclusion||It is important to DLC that any new light display be tasteful, inclusive and respectful. Discuss the inspiration behind your design and the design’s aesthetics. Describe how different elements might contribute to the design’s overall relevance to the Pittsburgh community, its diversity and its rich history. Also address how the design will complement Point State Park and its specific location within the park.|
(1000 char max)
|In a short (1-3 minute) video, provide an overview of your approach and discuss the inspiration for your design and how it addresses inclusivity, community and historical relevance. If your solution already exists, show an example. Be sure your video accurately reflects and clarifies the content of your submission.||Provide link to video|
|Supporting Documentation||Include any additional supporting files, including CAD drawings, tables, schematics, renderings, drawings, cost tables, images or other information. Supporting documentation shall not include extra narrative. Narrative entered above should reference specific supporting files uploaded here.||Upload files|
Please see the Resources Tab for additional resources
The challenge is open to all adult individuals, private teams, public teams, and collegiate teams. Teams must be from North American-based entities and solutions must be constructed and stored in North America. Submissions must be made in English. All challenge-related communication will be in English.
No specific qualifications or expertise is required. Prize organizers encourage outside individuals and non-expert teams to compete and propose new solutions.
To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.
Registration and Submissions:
Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the HeroX.com website, on or before 5:00PM ET on April 13th, 2022. No late submissions will be accepted.
This challenge allows multiple submissions per individual/team as long submissions are materially different. Should you have multiple entries to submit to this challenge, they will be considered separately. Whether or not multiple entries from the same individual or team may be chosen for a prize is up to the discretion of the Challenge Sponsor. You are not required to submit multiple entries if that option is available.
Selection of Winners:
Based on the winning criteria, prizes will be awarded per the Judging Criteria section above. In the case of a tie, the winner(s) will be selected based on the highest votes from the Judges.
Awarding of the Prize:
The Individual Submitter or Team Captain is automatically designated as the Recipient of the prize monies. The Individual's or Captain's name must also match the Authorized Person on the receiving Bank Account. No changes are permitted to the prize Recipient after the Submission Deadline date. If you wish to change who would receive the prize monies, those changes must be completed prior to the Submission Deadline. View our Knowledge Base article here for how to change Team Captains.
Due to our judging team requiring more time with the submissions, we are extending the winners announcement to July 1st. We look forward to taking the next steps and announcing the winners on July 1st!
If you're still assembling your submission, you have exactly 8 hours left to complete it!
Here's a Tip: HeroX recommends innovators plan to submit with at least a 3-hour window of time before the true deadline. Last-minute technical problems and unforeseen roadblocks have been the cause of many headaches. Don't let that be you!
That's right, the Reimagining the Duquesne Light Company Tree of Lights will be closing this coming April 13th at 4:59 pm Eastern Time (New York/USA).
As you put your final touches on your submissions, we want to send you one last bit of inspiration with this week's blog post. Be sure to check it out using the following link:
Make sure to complete your submission form well before the exact cut-off time.
At exactly 5 pm ET, we can no longer accept new submissions!
Now is the time to speak up! Comment directly on this update with any questions about the submission process and we'll get back to you right away!
We are quickly approaching the final days open for submission to the Reimagining the Duquesne Light Company Tree of Lights. The deadline is April 13th at 4:59 pm Eastern Time (New York/USA.)
Here are a couple of last-minute tips for a smooth entry process:
1. Begin your submission process several days before the cutoff time. This allows you to ensure everything you have been working on can be seamlessly integrated into the form.
2. Your submission will not be reviewed until you click the orange "Submit Entry" button at the top of the final review page. Please remember to do this!
3. Review the Challenge Guidelines to ensure your submission is complete. Pay particular attention to the judging criteria which will be the scorecard used to evaluate your entry.
4. Have any questions? Head over to the challenge forum and we would love to help you out.
Thanks so much, and good luck to all!
We are pleased to share the winners of the Reimagining the Duquesne Light Company Tree of Lights. You can learn about the winners below.
1st Place Winner
Keep your eyes peeled at Point State Park next holiday season to see Dr. Ben Towne's vision for a more responsive and energy-efficient holiday tree. Visually similar in many ways to the former tree, keeping tradition alive, while adding some fun new twists towards a bright future.
Most Creative Solution
The programmable LED tree, a simple tech upgrade from its predecessor, gives Pittsburgh a chance to show off its creative spirit. The new tree makes it possible to put on a tree lights design competition and a unique tree-synced drone light show every year. This fun holiday display in Point State Park would be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike for many years to come.