Project enables downtown Pittsfield to be seen in a whole new light

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PITTSFIELD — City Hall can now don colors for every occasion, and a time-honored marquee is again casting light on North Street.

Currently, the pillars of the city's marquee building blaze rainbow in honor of LGBTQ Pride, and come the Fourth of July, they'll be red, white and blue, says Elie Hammerling, president of the Downtown Pittsfield Cultural Association.

And the newly installed kinetic lights coincide with another bright downtown project — the restoration of the old Capitol Theatre marquee at the Ralph J. Froio Senior Center. The marquee made its way back to light this month, after the city spent $273,400 rehabilitating it.

New decorative lights at City Hall will cast a bluish-white glow on its front steps when there's no occasion to mark, and patterned lighting will connect the building to North Street through Dunham Mall. Hammerling said the idea is to spread the light fixtures downtown, connecting its buildings along a common theme.

The decorative lighting project was funded through Berkshire Lightscapes, an offshoot of the city's nonprofit cultural association, which received a $10,000 matching grant from MassDevelopment to fund the permanent installation. The cultural association provided the matching money, for a total project cost of $20,000.

Hammerling is working with property owners to bring the same programmable color kinetic lighting to several more downtown buildings over the coming weeks. He said to look for them soon at Barrington Stage, the Shipton Building at 142-156 North St., and the First Agricultural Bank building at 100 North St.

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"We're trying to do this one step at a time," he said.

Property owners are paying for the fixtures, he said, and that's what makes it all possible. He said the city has a unique set of locally based property owners who care.

The project kicked off with a temporary installation in December 2017 at the First Agricultural Bank building. The new lights were installed at City Hall late last month.

Hopefully, he said, a common theme will begin to slowly creep along North Street.

"We want tasteful, artistic lighting — not Vegas," he said. "That's the message we're giving people."

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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