Every evening for the past five weeks, Prosper resident Dietrich Juengling has been in a New York state of mind.
More specifically, an "Empire State of Mind."
The hit 2009 Alicia Keys song played nightly as part of a highly choreographed light show that illuminated the top of the iconic Empire State Building and transformed the New York City skyline.
The colorful and inspiring display, in honor of first responders, medical personnel and others in the Big Apple who are working on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle, garnered the attention of media and online viewers from around the world.
What most people don’t know is that light shows on the famed skyscraper originate each night from the Prosper home that Juengling shares with his wife and three children in the Tanner’s Mill subdivision.
"I have a huge array of computers here and a lot of really fast internet," he explained of how he regularly orchestrates and oversees pulsating performances on the Empire State Building from more than 1,500 miles away.
Tactical Manoeuvre, the Los Angeles-based company for which Juengling has worked for eight years as a lighting designer and programmer, has been illuminating the famed building since 2012, usually for holiday displays, theatrical openings and other special events.
That year, the company made the skyscraper sparkle for the televised "Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular."
Two years ago, with the help of helicopters and searchlights, Juengling and his coworkers lit the top of the tower for a headline-making TV performance by rapper Eminem.
In 2014, the building’s flashing façade served as a backdrop during a set by songstress Taylor Swift, who was promoting an album release.
Juengling moved to Prosper from Southern California five years ago.
As a teen, he lit stage shows for rock bands before going on to earn a master’s degree in fine arts at Boston University.
In the late ’90s, he worked as a lighting director on the movie "Batman and Robin," as well as on a television documentary starring musician Yanni. For that project, which earned him an Emmy Award nomination, he spent months filming on location in India at the Taj Mahal and in China.
For five years, Juengling was the principal lighting designer at Universal Studios Japan where he and his small staff, along with consultants, were tasked with designing and managing all of the architectural and entertainment-related lighting for the theme park.
"It was a crazy project, but a lot of fun," he recalled.
In the early 2000s, Juengling started his own company, which produced "photorealistic animation and renderings" for big-box retailers including Walmart.
He later joined the team at Tactical Manoeuvre, which was founded by renowned lighting designer Marc Brickman.
The company’s credits include Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas. It has also worked with performers including Pink Floyd frontman David Gilmour, composer Hans Zimmer, country singer Keith Urban and pop stars John Mayer and The Black Eyed Peas.
Most of the light shows that Juengling and the Tactical Manoeuvre team produce for the Empire State Building are intended to serve as marketing tools to promote products or events. They are usually only shown one time.
That changed beginning in late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each night, the company lights the top of the building with a "base look," Juengling explained, bathing it in color combinations that pay homage to members of the New York Police Department, U.S. military and nurses, among others.
On March 29, bright red-and-white "beacon"-type lights appeared to rotate around the top of the tower siren-style in a nod to emergency workers.
The emotionally stirring pattern "sort of took people back," Juengling said, and received national news coverage.
On Sunday through Thursday evenings, a New York City radio station has been interviewing emergency workers and others before playing "Empire State of Mind" simultaneously with the building’s choreographed light show.
Performances of that themed display concluded last weekend.
Tactical Manoeuvre recently added a Beatles-themed show, which continues to run at midnight EST (11 p.m. CST) Fridays and Saturdays.
The Empire State Building’s light-and-music shows are live-streamed on YouTube (youtube.com/user/esbnyc/featured) and Facebook (facebook.com/empirestatebuilding/), where videos of previous shows are also available for viewing.
A calendar of current and upcoming shows is found on the building’s website, esbnyc.com/explore/tower-lights.
Juengling said he hopes the illuminated skyscraper boosts the spirits of hospital workers and others following their long shifts, when they are "able to look up as they’re walking out and see a light show."
He considers lighting the Empire State Building "one of the best projects I’ve ever worked on, and not just because of the scale of it. … Knowing that the audience is an entire city and that its affecting lives, that for me is sort of the high point of my career."