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Sept. 30: Carnegie Mellon Drama and Architecture Students To Use Lighting To Create Sustainable Design and Brand for City's Cultural District


Eric Sloss              

Carnegie Mellon Drama and Architecture Students To Use Lighting
To Create Sustainable Design and Brand for City's Cultural District

lightingPITTSBURGH—Students from Carnegie Mellon University's School of Architecture Urban Laboratory and the School of Drama's Lighting Design course have partnered with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to create a branded lighting plan for the city's Cultural District. The project will culminate with the unveiling of full-scale lighting mock-ups of specific sites in the Cultural District at First Night, the Cultural Trust's 25th anniversary celebration held on New Year's Eve. A series of urban-scale design proposals for improving connectivity to and within downtown also will be displayed at First Night.
"The students gain experience working on a real-world project with process feedback from the clients," said Cindy Limauro, a Carnegie Mellon drama professor advising the project. "By partnering with the Cultural Trust they have an opportunity to positively impact the community's quality of life and to change the visual identity of the city."
The project includes an intensive study of the neighborhood with the goal of establishing a long-term plan for sustainable design as well as creating a vibrant visual identity. Students were charged with the task of branding the area in such a way that visitors would recognize that they are in the Cultural District simply by the lighting around them. Under the direction of Limauro and Kelly Hutzell and Rami el Samahy, assistant teaching professors in the School of Architecture, students are exploring ways in which both lighting design and urban design can provide a memorable urban experience, one that serves to increase a sense of security, improve navigation, promote green practices, and encourage viewers to consider the city as a living work of art.
Students will be exhibiting their work in phases at 901 Penn Ave. in conjunction with Cultural Trust events to elicit public response through the use of participatory design processes. Upcoming presentations include a gallery crawl Oct. 2, when students will develop and present an overall conceptual design, and Dec. 5, when students will present full lighting mock-ups in preparation for installment at First Night.
"This project represents precisely the kind of collaborative, multi-disciplinary effort that is required to make good design happen downtown. Our students have been energized by the interaction, and I think it shows in their work," el Samahy said.