Once-neglected downtown pillars in Wichita now light up the night with color

Driving downtown at night just got a whole lot brighter.

This week, LED lights were installed in the newly renovated “trellis towers” on Douglas between Topeka and Main streets.

It’s the latest development in a multi-year effort to beautify Douglas streetscapes from Washington to Main Street, an initiative which has also included the addition of planters and curb bump-outs to reduce pedestrian crossing distances. “The whole intent of everything we’re doing along Douglas is to create a more pedestrian-friendly space,” said Jeff Best, director of landscape architecture at LK Architecture. He’s been leading the Douglas streetscape project since at least 2013. The “trellis towers” were originally installed in 1997, according to Best, with the intent of allowing vines to grow up alongside them.

That part of the project never materialized, according to Jason Gregory, executive vice president of Downtown Wichita. So the teal-green metal towers remained until they were painted black by the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation about five years ago, Gregory said.

Earlier this week, translucent panels were installed on all four sides of the pillars, and LED lights were installed inside the pyramidal tops of the towers.

The pillars have the capability to change colors, based on the city’s discretion, according to Best.

(Read more: Local News | The Wichita Eagle & Kansas.com)