By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
May 30, 2019
City Hall and the Dunham Mall are complete and now the focus is on Park Square. Private building owners in the downtown are also considering lighting projects.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — City Hall is the latest to be lit up with multi-color lights by Berkshire Lightscapes. And more of downtown is on deck. Berkshire Lightscapes privately raised more than $50,000, which was matched by a state grant, to install kinetic lights in Dunham Mall, City Hall, and Park Square. Concurrently, downtown building owners are working on joining the effort to light up their own buildings with the Shipton Building expected to be lit in in the coming weeks.
“We’re not just doing light for one individual building, we are talking about connecting the buildings,” said Elie Hammerling, who headed the effort.
The multi-color lights are programmable for each place.
In the winter, Dunham Mall was light up with rotating snowflakes, which in the spring switched to a blue design pattern. City Hall was lit up with rotating colors last week and training was held for a few city workers to learn about reprogramming the lights to recognize certain occasions. Philips Lighting had organized the training.
“The Berkshires Lightscape project reflects the very best of community engagement, collaboration, and demonstrates how a great idea can become a reality. The addition of energy-efficient, LED lighting enhances the beauty of our downtown and will create opportunities to expand Pittsfield’s economy. We look forward to the exciting next steps ahead,” Mayor Linda Tyer said in a statement.
The non-profit Berkshire Lightscapes paid for the city hall lights — to the tune of about $20,000 — from the fundraising on matching state grant. Steve Oakes, however, will be doing it on his own. Oakes owns the Shipton Building at 142-156 North St. and is purchasing his own light for that building.
“The South and North Street corridor has a great medley of architecture. There are so many opportunities to install a friendly wash of light from these innovative LED fixtures. If enough buildings participated the combined effect could be a unique and welcoming signature for the city,” Oakes said in a statement. Hammerling said other building owners are now in the process of considering lights. Those buildings include Barrington Stage, the Colonial Theatre, and the Crawford Square Building. He said those building owners haven’t made final decisions about purchased but are “extremely interested.”
“There are a number of property owners on South Street and North Street who are getting renderings from Philips,” Hammerling said, adding that beyond those three he’s been in talks with other business owners. Hammerling said he’s hoping to see two or three more buildings lit up by the summer and as many as a half dozen by the end of the year. He sees it as a rolling effect after one or two business owners join, then others will follow.
“It is the pioneers that take the leap because they believe in the concept,” Hammerling said. The Park Square project is currently in the works. That one is a little more complicated as the city and Berkshire Lightscape works out the design, where the lights will go, and what features will be added. The organization presented an update to the Parks Commission recently, the details of which can be read here.
“It is a historic park so you want it to be done a certain way,” Hammerling said. The effort began in December 2017 when the organization piloted lights on 100 North St. The goal is to use light in “artistic and tasteful” displays that add some life to the downtown, Hammerling said. He said downtown could use more people and businesses and the lights help create a more energetic feel.
“It’ll be attractive for restaurants and other people to see energy in the downtown,” he said. “We want to make the street as attractive as possible and have businesses feeling comfortable that it is an exciting space.”
He envisions a day when the kinetic lighting is all coordinated throughout the city’s downtown. It’s taken a year and a half to go from nothing to two areas lit up, but another step has been taken toward the goal and Hammerling believe much more lays ahead for Berkshire Lightscapes.
Photo credit: iBerkshires