July 7, 2021
Berkshire Lightscapes is a program of Downtown Pittsfield Development Association (DPCA), a 501c3 non-profit organization. DPCA is an affiliate of Downtown Pittsfield, Inc.
To create permanent, artistic lightscapes on downtown buildings, public spaces and connecting alleyways. The goal is to create a brighter, safer environment for those walking to theatres, shops and restaurants and to make downtown more exciting and inviting.
Founded in 2017 by Elie Hammerling and a small group of downtown advocates.
In mid-2017, BL contracted with the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) to develop a master plan to illuminate downtown buildings and public areas. The study was made possible by grants from Berkshire Bank Foundation and Greylock Federal Credit Union.
In early 2018, BL applied for and secured a $50,000 grant from Mass Development’s Commonwealth Places Program that invested in innovative projects to stimulate the economy of cities. The grant required a 1:1 match. BL organized a targeted fundraising campaign and in 3 months, raised more than $52,000 to match the Commonwealth grant. Donations came from 137 individuals and businesses.
What are these LED Lights ?
These new high tech LED lights generate high levels of brightness and intensity. They can produce millions of dynamic colors and are 5 times more energy efficient than incandescent and halogen sources. They can operate in cold temperatures and offer a much longer useful life than conventional light sources. The color control technology lets the user target and adjust almost unlimited colors and shades of white light with great precision. The lights on the buildings can be programmed and changed throughout the year to celebrate a wide variety of causes.
What’s Happened to date?
LED lights have been installed on City Hall, Dunham Mall and Persip and Sottile Plazas. Installations were recently completed on the Colonial Theatre and Barrington Stage Company’s Wolfson Center Administration building and will officially be turned on July 7.
Privately Owned Buildings
The Lightscapes Program has encouraged the participation of private building owners to install lights on their buildings. To date, lights have been installed on 100 North Street owned by David Carver and the Shipton and Crawford Square buildings owned by Steve Oakes. Interest has been shown by a number of other downtown property owners. The Covid pandemic brought the program to a near standstill in 2020.
Board of Directors of DPCA
Peter Lafayette, President
Pittsfield Beautiful. Inc.
Pittsfield Beautiful is a volunteer driven non-profit founded in 1989 that seeks to help keep Pittsfield attractive and welcoming. Most of its focus has been on adopting and maintaining colorful public gardens and plantings in public spaces throughout Pittsfield. The organization wanted to do something special to cheer people up and when it received an unexpected donation from the estate of Fay Henry and heard what Berkshire Lightscapes was trying to do to create a more welcoming presence downtown with permanent colorful lighting, it awarded the program support to help light up the Colonial and the Wolfson Center.
Pittsfield Beautiful also expanded its winter décor project this year to include additional public sites in the downtown area. In addition, volunteers are exploring the idea of introducing a “Curb Appeal” recognition program this summer for residents and businesses that enhance their location with the addition of flowers.
Video Projections Project
A new Video Projections Program sponsored by Berkshire Lightscapes is being started to recognize and celebrate the work of local artists in the exploding field of video creation. As computer technology continues to evolve, more and more people, artists and non-artists alike, are creating amazing new art that is rarely seen or shared. This program will solicit videos created here in the Berkshires and show them on the large south facing wall of the Colonial which will serve as a giant screen.
The program will be launched on July 7 at 9:00pm with the unique and vibrant video art of local artist Joe Wheaton. This program will be on-going during the summer and fall months on a schedule to be announced. The Program is partnering on the project with the Berkshire Art Association (BAA). BAA will put out a Call for Art and will invite local artists and non-artists to submit original video works. Those selected by a jury of artists will be shown on the big Colonial wall screen later in the summer and fall. The project will build on Pittsfield’s growing focus on art and culture and will allow more people to participate in this important part of the community.