Letter: Shine Up the 'Sphere and Digitize It!

I am very happy to hear about KMA's new development. I found the article and interview very interesting. ["Life Cycle" by Matthew Everett, April 24, 2014] Now if only we can have someone step up to renovate the Sunsphere! I've been away for around 10 years. I was born in Knoxville in '81. My father told me that prior to there being a World's Fair Park, it was built to be The World's Energy Convention. That is where the Sunsphere comes in. It is the representation of energy in motion, I assume. I like the Sunsphere, but that stems from my childhood. It has faded into one ugly mother. The shape is great, which means the aesthetic potential and unique individuality is great. But! The glass sphere has different sections of gold, which evidently fade separately. I can tell this well and I am partially color blind, so I know you can see it. My father also said that the glass was supposed to be these new innovative energy efficient windows. Well that's great, but they look like crap now. It was built over 30 years ago.

Now, gold can be very good looking if done right. Gold can also be done in a manner that becomes so outdated it looks very tacky and ugly. It is a hard color to pull off for timeless good looks. I'm not saying that it can't be done. Any gray reflective window material, or silver, gloss black high-rises look good, or redo the gold, or really the best option to do (and most expensive), would be to digitalize the glass while maintaining transparency. This could very effectively add seasonal or other information to the community, you could use LED lighting to reflect off the new glass and shine at night into a dark blue, or change the color to whatever you want. If digitalized, it could be the best marketing tool in history of this city (think Times Square). Oak Ridge could also use it to market the new development of their technology to reduce LED heat from massive lighting, just as they are doing to Thompson Bowling Arena.

The Sunsphere is designed to represent energy, what better way to modernize what it is and was, further assist in what it was initially created for, than to fill it with digital capacity, or energetic windows. It's not going anywhere. Our 30-year-old model once looked like a cool and shiny giant stud golden earring. It has since faded from glory, literally. I can tell, and you can too if you look and study it instead of considering it just there. The artistic potential that could be added to this structure would set our city apart in a beautiful way. It is seen by anyone going through I-40, I-275 or I-75. It is a part of our views, and it is also the iconic symbol of our city. Its gigantic mass is unmistakable. Considering oil is a major energy producer, Pilot is the largest oil man in the region, and happens to be from here, it could work. I already mentioned the nuclear energy associated with Oak Ridge and their LED lighting. I think that would be a very fitting story in the evolution of the building and our city, too. The Haslams could definitely use good PR. But I don't care who, really—someone just please redo it and don't talk to me about restaurant or bar failures. I'm tired of looking at the outdated and faded thing. It could be great and it doesn't take a business major (though that's what I am) to see how it could easily serve as valuable tool for both our community as well as a high-rise company HQ.

Dan Morelock

Knoxville