We want the Hong Kong experience,” he said, referring to the often-dramatic lighting seen on buildings there, but “we won’t be showing TV shows on the side of the building.

When redesigning the exterior lighting for one of the world’s best-known buildings, how should you proceed?

With much greater energy efficiency, a significantly wider palette of more intense colors and a lot of panache.

That is the tack that the owners of the Empire State Building are taking with their decision to replace its 400 existing standard lamps — technology that was introduced to coincide with the 1976 bicentennial — with 1,200 newly designed fixtures using the latest LED technology.

Because the colors of each LED fixture can be manipulated independently and instantaneously via computer, lighting effects — including rainbows, ripples, cross-fades and burst effects — can be created that appear to be animated, continuously moving and changing.

“We’ll have some real fun with our ability to manipulate the new lights,” said Anthony E. Malkin, president of Malkin Holdings, an affiliate of the entity that owns the building. The announcement on the new lighting is scheduled to be made on Wednesday.

Of course, changing the lighting on such a prominent building is fraught with not only financial considerations, but also ethical responsibilities. Just because technology creates the ability to stage rock-concert-like light shows on the walls of one of the world’s most recognizable buildings does not mean that is what should be done.

Fear not, Mr. Malkin said.

“We want the Hong Kong experience,” he said, referring to the often-dramatic lighting seen on buildings there, but “we won’t be showing TV shows on the side of the building.”

excerpt from the NYTimes, article by Eric A. Taub, May 7, 2012