MIT 100 Years in Cambridge

On May 7, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology celebrated the centennial Moving Day, marking the day that Boston Tech crossed the Charles River to Cambridge, officially becoming MIT. Longtime friend, producer and scenic designer Peter Agoos asked UVLD’s John Ingram to light the evening’s outdoor pageant, capping a weekend of activities celebrating the anniversary. John enlisted the expertise of LD David Rees to collaborate.

Transforming the campus’ Killian Court into an outdoor amphitheater posed numerous challenges, not the least of which were the vagaries of spring weather in New England.  Ingram and Rees created a lighting approach combining efficacy and feasibility. An outdoor stage, 250’ long, was the central focus.

Rees. In Show. Contemplates.

Rees. In Show. Contemplates.

Obstructions including trees and the need to provide weather protection on a moment’s notice were a challenge; Ingram designed a system of 12 scissor lifts to provide stage and atmospheric lighting. The lifts were populated with a hybrid system of Syncrolite XL10s and Varilite VL4000 Spots.

To aid with Killian Court’s transformation, 40 Clay Paky Mythos were installed on the iconic Building 10 Dome and on the grounds. Fifty Martin Mac Quantum Wash and 10 Varilite VL3500 Wash lit the facades of the surrounding buildings. Four Lycian MC2 2.5kw followspots on scaffolding capped of the system. Lighting equipment was provided by 4Wall Entertainment.

The show was directed by MIT lecturer David R. Gammons. Michael Matthews, lead rigger and meteorologist, worked with a structural engineer to devise a methodology for installing and securing the equipment to the scissor lifts. He installed an ingenious system of anemometers on the lifts to monitor wind conditions and ensure a safe show.

Consistent rain and adverse weather threatened to force events to be moved indoors until the morning of the event. The weather significantly limited available programming time. Ingram and Rees drew on years of collaborative experience to light show in bits and pieces when weather and darkness allowed. In the end weather conditions cooperated, and the show, under the helm of stage manager Peter Muste, came off without a hitch. Following a finale of fireworks over the Charles River and Syncrolite beams dancing through the sky, the crowd wandered off to enjoy a night of dancing around campus.

Production Electrician Sal Restuccia, assisted by Brad Criswell, Pamela Smith, and Syncrolite technician Travis Braudaway, flawlessly installed and maintained the system in conditions reminiscent of a postal service motto. Sal’s keen eyes recognized potential lighting problems well before they became insurmountable. They persevered through the wind, rain and dark to present Ingram and Rees with a flawlessly working system.

Header Photo: 617 Images


UVLD Partners on this Project