Berkshire Lightscapes (“BL”) was organized in 2017 by Elie Hammerling, a downtown advocate, to plan and install a series of lightscapes throughout downtown Pittsfield. The goal was to illuminate and energize downtown buildings, streets, and public spaces in artistic, energy efficient light-emitting diode (“LED”) lighting. The plan was to begin with lighting up City Hall and key downtown public spaces and then move on to privately-owned buildings with participating owners. BL was envisioned to be a multi-year undertaking, building upon the previous 20+ years of downtown revitalization and beautification.
BL applied for and was awarded a matching $50,000 grant in 2018 from Mass Development to kickstart the program. It then raised an additional $52,000 from local residents and organizations to launch the project. Those funds were targeted to provide light installations for City Hall, Dunham Mall and Park Square. The lighting up of City Hall and Park Square was completed in 2019. Historic issues and higher than anticipated costs for Park Square led to a decision to light up Persip Plaza and Sottile Plaza instead.
While the public spaces were being lit up, attention was shifted to privately-owned buildings. To date, buildings at 100 North Street, the former First Agricultural Building, and 150 North Street (the Shipton Building) have been completed. Lighting will be installed soon on the Crawford Square building. Much interest has been expressed by other property owners, but the Covid-19 virus shutdown has delayed those plans for now. Discussions will resume at a future date.
The new lights are LED color kinetic lights utilizing special fixtures that mount on the buildings. They are computer-operated and can remain one color or be programmed to change colors on a selected schedule. The goal is to tie all downtown buildings together through WiFi to create coordinated lightshows for special occasions throughout the year.
Berkshire Lightscapes is sponsored by the Downtown Pittsfield Cultural Association (DPCA), a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and operate cultural, artistic and educational programs that assist in the revitalization of downtown Pittsfield. The DPCA is overseen by a Board of Directors whose members include downtown business and cultural leaders:
Peter Lafayette, President
Regina Burgio, Clerk
David Irwin, Treasurer
Other Board Members: Steven Oakes, Susan Langman, William Wright, and Nick Paleologos