Columbia University, one of the most historic and prestigious institutions of higher learning in the United States, celebrated its 250th anniversary with a two-day event as dignified, grand and refined as the university itself. To illuminate the splendid two-day celebration, lighting designer Jason Showers turned to a company also steeped in tradition, Vari-Lite.

Using automated lighting consisting predominantly of VARI*LITE® luminaires, Showers designed the architectural effect lighting on two large buildings at either end of Columbia University’s “College Square” between Broadway and Amsterdam in Manhattan.

The main building illuminated was Butler Library, Columbia’s main student library, which served as a backdrop to the entertainment stage. Student musicians, dance teams and other groups performed on stage during opening night events, while Wyclef Jean attracted approximately 15,000 fans for a two-hour concert to close the celebration. Showers used 15 VL1000TM Arc luminaires with shutters and 18 VL2416TM wash luminaires to light Butler Library and it’s magnificent columns.

“The tight beams really accented the columns from the buildings beautifully,” said Showers, of West Chester, Pa.-based Advanced Staging Productions. “The VL1000 Arc units were used to illuminate the area between each pillar. We also own several VL1000 Tungsten fixtures, but we needed the added intensity from the Arc units for this particular event.”

Philadelphia-based Expert Events produced the event, while Advanced Staging Productions handled all of the technical production elements of the 250th Anniversary Celebration. BML provided the stage and roof system, some on-site lighting personnel, and all of the lighting equipment. The VARI*LITE fixtures came from BML via VLPS Lighting Services.

For the Low Library, located at the opposite end of college square, approximately 700 feet from the performance area, Showers lit all three levels of the building as well as some mature trees on either side of the building. The lower level pillars of Low Library were lit with 10 VL2416 wash luminaires, while contrasting color washes bathed the nearby trees.

The second level of the building consisted of a large octagonal wall with a 20-by-40-foot arched window on its face. The window was lit with two each of the VL2000TM Wash and VL2000TM Spot luminaires. The Series 2000TM fixtures were all set on the roof with about a 15-foot throw.

“The zoom in the Series 2000 luminaires really enabled me to get excellent coverage and still maintain enough intensity to cut through the cycs washing the front of the window,” Showers said. “The output of a VARI*LITE Series 2000 fixture with a 700W lamp is outstanding. When you think about size, performance, reliability and the feature set, I don’t think there is a better fixture on the market in this category.”

Crew members for the event include:

Jason Cataldi, Advanced Staging Productions Project Manager
Jason Showers, Lighting Design/Architectural Programming and Operation
Bobby DeLuca, On-site BML Production Coordinator
Mark Miller, Head Electrician
Russell Keitel, Assistant Electrician/Architectural Programming
Noelle Shigo, Assistant Electrician
David Schmeider, Assistant Electrician