Duquesne Light Company


Reimagining the Duquesne Light Company Tree of Lights

Help Duquesne Light Co. implement a new, iconic holiday symbol that will be enjoyed by residents and visitors of the city of Pittsburgh.

This challenge is closed

$15,000 + Potential Contract for Construction & Installation

This challenge is closed

Meet the Winners


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. 


Design Considerations 

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.  


Environmental Sustainability 

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.  


Engineering and Implementation Considerations 

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: 

Winners  Award 






Best in Class (Most Creative Solution) 


People’s Choice 


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 


How do I win? 

To be eligible for an award, your proposal must, at minimum: 

  • Satisfy the judging scorecard requirements.
  • Thoughtfully address the submission form questions.
  • Be scored higher than your competitors!


Judging Criteria 

Section  Description Overall Weight 
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)? 

Environmental Sustainability 

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? 



Submission Form 

All elements of the submission must be completed and submitted by the deadline: April 13th, 2022. 

Field Prompt/Help text Format 
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? 

Formatted text 

(1000 char max) 

Engineering and Implementation 

Describe your design in detail, including: 

  • Where and how will it be constructed?
  • What materials, components and devices will be used?
  • A detailed schematic for the design
  • An installation plan and accompanying descriptive narrative
  • A detailed project plan that culminates in the successful installation of the solution at Point State Park by mid-November of 2022
  • A list of identified risks and mitigation strategies
  • Safety considerations to protect Point State Park’s grounds, visitors and nearby river traffic, and any specific safety concerns and mitigations for the installation process

Formatted text 

(9500 char max) 


Discuss your design’s longevity, including: 

  • Its ability to be installed and deinstalled year after year
  • Anticipated maintenance for the design and how this would occur
  • The durability and reusability of materials, components and devices used
  • What updates or upgrades might be needed in the future to maintain functionality and/or relevance

Formatted text 

(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.  

Formatted text 

(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. 

Formatted text 

(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. 

Formatted text 

(1000 char max) 

Video Pitch 


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 



Participation Eligibility:  

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 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.  

Additional Information:   

  • By participating in the challenge, each competitor agrees to adhere to the HeroX Intellectual Integrity Policy and promises to submit only their original idea. Any indication of "copying" amongst competitors is grounds for disqualification.
  • All applications will go through a process of due diligence; any application found to be misrepresentative, plagiarized, or sharing an idea that is not their own will be automatically disqualified.
  • All ineligible applicants will be automatically removed from the competition with no recourse or reimbursement.
  • No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win the competition.
  • Void wherever restricted or prohibited by law.



Challenge Updates

Announcing the Reimagining the Duquesne Light Company Tree of Lights Winners!

July 1, 2022, 11 a.m. PDT by Andrew Owsanski

Duquesne Light Company has selected the following finalists to share the Phase 1 prize money. The winners are:


First Place Winner

Most Creative Solution


Congratulations once again to our winners! More details about the winning solution will be announced soon! 


Winners Announcement Update

May 19, 2022, 1:46 p.m. PDT by Andrew Owsanski

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!

8 Hours Remaining to Submit!

April 13, 2022, 6 a.m. PDT by Andrew Owsanski

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!

A bit of extra inspiration for your 2-day warning!

April 11, 2022, 2 p.m. PDT by Andrew Owsanski

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:

A Time to Reimagine

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! 

Got questions?

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!

Five Days Left to Submit (TIPS)

April 8, 2022, 2 p.m. PDT by Andrew Owsanski

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!

1st place
Most Creative Solution
Eric Lore's team Eric Lore's team
1 team member
Looking for members
Ben's team Ben's team
1 team member
Looking for members
Tina Danik's team Tina Danik's team
1 team member
Looking for members
Meet the Winners