Aspen’s Louis Vuitton lights up
November 17, 2009
ASPEN – Aspen has a long history of turning off the lights, but the eye-catching display in the front windows at Louis Vuitton passes muster, according to a city official.
The colorful array of lights do not, for the most part, constitute a lighted sign, though the lighted initials “LV” are part of the display. The initials don’t blink on and off, though, and the high-end, Mill Street boutique remains within the size limits allowed for signage, according to Chris Bendon, community development director.
“I think it’s really neat,” he said.
The display is lit continuously, but after dark, is noticeable for a block or two in either direction. Passersby have been spotted stopping to take photographs of the illuminated windows.
Although the city has lightened up on signs in recent years – allowing sandwich board signs on sidewalks and in the pedestrian malls, for example – Aspen regulations still prohibit various signs. They include: billboards; signs that flash, blink, flicker, pulse, scintillate, vary in intensity, rotate or otherwise move; neon signs; obsolete signs (unless they’re historic); signs that appear to move or change through an optical illusion; and roof signs.
The only internally-lit sign on display on the exterior of a building in Aspen is the historic Isis sign, which lights up the name of the theater in red bulbs and is permitted because it’s historic. The old neon sign for the former Golden Horn restaurant is also historic and could be reactivated.
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The city’s strict rules on internally lit signs, however, led the City Council to reject a proposed lighted marquee outside of the city’s own Wheeler Opera House in 2006 and, several years earlier, a high-end real estate sales office was ordered to pull the plug on a neon sign. Intrawest’s former “discovery center” in the old Aspen Drug space debuted in 2003 with a neon sign that read “bull’s eye” and featured the lighted shape of a steer’s head.
The city’s enforcement officer at the time joked that she’d received her first complaint about the neon steer’s head before the brown paper even came off the windows at the discovery center’s unveiling.
Neon tends to trigger quick city action, Bendon said, because “it triggers phone calls.”
Nonetheless, the City Council agreed last month to allow a temporary art installation outside the Aspen Art Museum even though the piece incorporated neon lighting.