The birthplace of the Beatles recently celebrated a new spectacle, undertaken by two lads at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA). Paul Nulty and Nick Handford (pictured right and left) both final-year students at LIPA, added a dash of automated architectural lighting to the Institute's flat facades, a transformative experience for the beige-colored building on Mount Street.

Nulty, a BA Performance Design student, designed the project, which "played" a week this April at LIPA. He collaborated on the presentation with Handford, an Enterprise Management student. Realizing that the meager budget allotted would not be enough to manage this enterprise over its eight-month gestation period, they approached High End Systems, which has supported LIPA with equipment, technical support, and training since it opened in 1996. This time, High End went so far as to donate Debi Moen, its Austin, TX-based media and comunications specialist, who flew in to help organize press for the LIPA Lighting Project launch. The company and its UK distributor, Lightfactor Sales, pitched in with gear besides, as Nulty and Handford arranged additional donations from other sources (one of which, The River of Light, will be using High End gear to light buildings along the Mersey throughout 2000).

Six EC-1(TM) weatherized architectural wash fixtures and four Studio Colors(R) skimmed the outer walls of LIPA, creating shadows in the cornices and producing strong contrasts between shadowy and lit areas. The EC-1s were placed in two clusters next to each other, below the outer walls of the Institute (above). They produced a fanned shape which pulled all eyes toward the main block of the Institute. Fixtures were concealed as much as possible to call attention to LIPA, in a non-rock show sort of way, and not themselves, no small task for the designer.

Six Cyberlights(R) and six Studio Spots(TM) were used to highlight features of the building, including its small bell tower, which could be seen from across the city. Customized LithoPatterns(R) projected onto the facades featured logos of LIPA and other project benefactors.

The students also created "LIPAdomes," offshoots of the Ecodome(R), to house fixtures as unpredictable weather struck the site. A crew of eight students took turns programming the big event, designed to enhance and complement the structure and its surroundings, on LIPA's own Status Cue(R) desk.

For the students, the LIPA Lighting Project put the skills they develop over their three-year degree courses to the test. The opening night festivities also included a special naming ceremony for the High End Systems Control Room in the Institute's Paul McCartney Auditorium. Says LIPA chief executive Mark Featherstone-Witty, "Aside from the event, the great thing for us is that it was initiated and achieved by two of our talented students and backed by our friends, High End Systems. I feel sure that Sir Paul would be glad to see performance design and management students getting the limelight as our performers have done."