Berkshire Lightscapes hopes to light up downtown buildings and public spaces permanently.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Elie Hammerling was vacationing in Arizona when he saw private buildings and businesses all lit up with color kinetic. He wondered what it would take to have that in Pittsfield.
"I started thinking whether Pittsfield, scaled to Pittsfield, could embrace lighting the street, storefronts, buildings," Hammerling said.
So he formed the non-profit Berkshire Lightscapes last year to bring it downtown. The board found Philips Lighting and consultants Apex Lighting Solutions, which offered to let them try the lights out.
On Thursday, the group lit up the former Agricultural Bank building at 100 North St. so the community, other businesses, and the committee can see for themselves what it would be like here.
"These were presets but you can change them at will. You can coordinate them to music so if you had speakers out there, then the lights could actually move in sync with the music. There are an endless amount of possibilities," said Cindy Malinchak, the northeast regional manager for Philips Lighting.
Philips is leaving the 14 lights with Berkshire Lightscapes for the next six months to try on different buildings. For the next 10 days, 100 North St. will be lit up but from there, the committee can move them to other buildings or spaces.
"We are going to leave them here with Berkshire Lightscapes for a period of time so each of the buildings could actually get to see their building mocked up as well. We've got 14 lights we'll leave here for six months and anybody else who wants their buildings lit up," Malinchak said.
David Carver, owner of CT Management Group which owns 100 North St., was pleased with the display on his building. He had been asked about doing it by Hammerling more than a year ago.
"I love it. I think it is a great idea. It lights up the downtown. Lighting in the dead of winter is a wonderful thing. It is done all over the country and has been very successful," Carver said.
Allegrone Companies has expressed interest on some of its buildings as did Police Chief Michael Wynn for the Police Station. Malinchak said a local electrician -- Pete Yetman, owner of Performance ECM -- will be trained with how to program the displays. Yetman installed the fixtures at 100 North.
The color kinetics technology was first developed in the 1990s by students at Carnegie Mellon University. Philips later purchased the technology and expanded upon it. The lighting is now used throughout the country with the most notable sites being the Empire State Building, Park Place, and the Zakim Bridge.
Malinchak said the company is currently installing them on nine bridges and four tunnels in New York City, which all will be synced up to music and matching patterns in the sky. Malinchak said the benefits aren't just in aesthetics but have proved to help with economic development of an area.
Hammerling added that it will also help toward providing safety for those walking the streets at night.
"It is partly for the beauty and artistic quality of it. But it is also to light up our streets for purposes of having people walk comfortably, feel safe, have the attractiveness of lighting. It is beauty and safety that are the two major reasons," Hammerling said.
Hammerling said the demo taking place during these 10 days, and over the next six months, will gauge how interested the community is in bringing it to more public spaces and private buildings. The committee hopes to start fundraising to buy the technology for various areas.
"From this point forward everything we do is going to be permanent lighting. It is not an art show. It is not light art for a festival. It is to have permanent lights you will see when you are walking," Hammerling said.
Later adding, "I'm very excited by tonight's show but I think it is the beginning. I think there is so many things ahead of us."
The lighting does come at a cost but Malinchak said the LED lights "actually pay for themselves from the energy savings." She said the 14 lights being demoed by Berkshire Lightscape equals the wattage of a single flood light many building owners use for lighting.
And for any readers who come to check out the display at 100 North St., make sure you wave to us. We're in the top middle window.
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Hancock Shaker Village Opening For Baby Animals, Outdoor Spaces
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Hancock Shaker Village will hold a limited opening on Thursday, June 4, as part of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's Phase 1 initiative.
The Village will open only its outdoor spaces — including its beloved baby animals in outdoor fenced-in areas — to the public Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This schedule will be in place at least through June, as the Village plans for a full reopening in Phase 3.
Leaders of the iconic living history museum have been working for weeks on a reopening plan with new measures in place to ensure the safety of visitors and staff. Such health and safety measures include online and timed ticketing, guest capacity limits, one-way paths to control guest flow, clearly designated distance markers ranging from 6 to 10 feet, enhanced cleaning protocols, more hand sanitizer stations, and COVID-19 training for all staff.
Visitors will be required to pre-purchase timed admissions, available online at hancockshakervillage.org or by phone at 413-443-0188. Members are always free, but must reserve a time slot prior to their visit. Guests and staff are required to wear face coverings.
"The health and safety of our community remains our top priority," Director Jennifer Trainer Thompson said. "With guidance from Governor Baker, we are looking forward to once again welcoming visitors and continuing our mission of connecting people to the Village and the stories of the Shakers."
The museum has been offering virtual programs such as a stream on YouTube of a dance performance by Reggie Wilson and Fist and Heel Performance Group in the Round Stone Barn and virtual talks with authors and Shaker collectors. The Village also expanded its social media presence, offering programs such as Facebook livestreams from the farm and popular Zoom with Baby Animals sessions. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Village also made the decision to plant its 5-acre vegetable garden, which supports a 65-member CSA and provides 15 percent of its crops to local families in need.
"We know people have been eager to visit the farm when it is safe to do so," Thompson said. “Self-guided discovery has always been important to the museum experience here, and with baby animals, the trails, the architecture, and the gorgeous gardens, we’ll offer what has always been a hallmark of the Village: an inspiring, holistic experience."
The donation, which was made in honor of all BHS employees and medical staff, will be designated to support two major programs that provide reliable access to healthy food for residents of Berkshire County. click for more