Hult Lighting Project in RG

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Hult Center lobby lightens up for new season

BY EDWARD RUSSO

The Register-Guard

Published: Midnight, Aug. 15

Like most patrons of the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Bill Stoebig of Eugene never thought about the lighting in the lobby. “I didn’t notice it,” he said Tuesday. “It certainly didn’t bother me.”But the fluorescent lights that are attached to the lobby’s soaring ceiling beams will be replaced in the next month at a cost of $499,000.

The project, which began Tuesday, will close the lobby until late September, though people will be able to get to the ticket office while the work is being done. The new lighting, which has been planned for years, will provide energy savings and improve illumination in the lobby, officials said. “The lobby is rather dark, and this new illumination, with more light bouncing off the ceiling, will be more warm and inviting,” said Libby Tower, outreach manager for the city’s cultural services division.

The main doors of the lobby will be closed during the work, but the public can reach the ticket counter in the lobby through the Jacobs Gallery. The gallery doors are at the base of the stairs, on the east side of the Hult Center. A wheelchair-accessible ramp also provides access to the Jacobs Gallery doors.

Steve Loges, project manager with the city’s facilities division, said the lobby is illuminated by fluorescent lights that are attached to the ceiling beams high above the lobby floor. Those lights will be replaced with several dozen fixtures closer to the floor. The lower placement will make it easier to replace lights as they burn out, and better illuminate the lobby, Loges said. To replace burned-out lights, workers every few years had to build scaffolding to reach the ceiling beams, some of which are 80 feet above the floor, he said. “It cost upward of $30,000 to get to the high reaches of the lobby and get to the lamps and ballasts when they burn out and need to be changed,” Loges said. “That’s a lot of money to put into the maintenance side.”

The replacement fixtures will be attached to the lobby’s 35 vertical wooden columns. Many of the lights will be 9 feet above the floor, Loges said. “We hope they create a nice pool of light on the floor,” he said. Other replacement lights will be higher than 9 feet, but city maintenance workers will be able to change them when they burn out with a lift that reaches to 35 feet, Loges said.

The city hired Rowell Brokaw Architects for the design. Bineham Construction of Eugene is the general contractor. Lynn’s Electric Co. of Fall Creek will replace the lights. The new lighting, encased in anodized bronze fixtures, also will be more theatrical to reflect the original design of the 30-year-old Hult Center, Loges said. “It will feel a little more theatrical,” he said. “We are looking for dazzle and sparkle, something that gives you more than typical office fluorescent lighting.”

Tower, the cultural services outreach director, said the work should be done by Sept. 20, the first seasonal performance of the Eugene Symphony. “There may be some restrictions on (patron) movement, but we will do everything we can to minimize that,” she said.