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The Carletonian

Carleton considers designers for science center atrium light fixture


The College is currently in the final stages of choosing a designer for a light fixture in the new science building set to open this fall. The light fixture will feature prominently in the building’s atrium.

So far this month, three candidates have visited Carleton to present their proposals—Alexander Tylevich, Danny Saathoff, and Wendy Evans Joseph. All Carleton students, faculty and staff were invited to attend the presentations and offer feedback. The process is orchestrated by a committee formed of Carleton employees, faculty and one student.

The Light Fixture Design Committee began meeting in Summer 2018 to define the process, create a request for proposals (RFP), identify potential candidates, and narrow down the candidate field, said Gretchen Hofmeister, Associate Dean of the College, Professor of Chemistry, and chair of the Light Fixture Design Committee.

The committee is composed largely of professors and employees of the sciences at Carleton.

“I think it’s appropriate for the scientists to be a majority on the committee since they’ll be living with the fixture every day,” said Steve Richardson, Director of the Arts at Carleton and a member of the Light Fixture Design Committee.

The committee also includes three faculty and employees affiliated with the arts at Carleton.

“Including arts faculty and art-related staff helps bring a broader vision into the conversation and brings some of our expertise in dealing with artists and reaching out into that community to bear,” said Richardson.

The committee reached out to a large number of designers and artists in the Twin Cities area with requests for proposals.
“We reached out to 30 contacts and asked them to forward the proposal to additional contacts who they thought would be interested. We were looking for people experienced with lighting design and whose aesthetic appealed to us, based on their websites,” said Hofmeister.

No students were considered as potential designers due to technical constraints inherent to the project. However, Celeste Gaughan ’20—a Studio Art/Biology double major—was placed on the committee.

“The project has stringent requirements that the light fixture must be UL-rated, deliver a specific level of lumens, be durable and last for over 40 years, weigh no more than 500 lbs, etc. We need people who are experienced with installations of this type to do this project,” said Hofmeister. “We do have a student representative on the Light Fixture Design Committee. The student was recommended by a member of the committee based on her background in both biology and studio art.”

Richardson is happy about the prospect of new public art at Carleton.

“Carleton does not have much of a tradition of public art—there’s the arch outside the Libe, the fountain in front of Boliou, and a few other pieces around campus. Deciding to do this is kind of a big deal. It’s important to go through a very thorough process and invite people with opinions to have the chance to speak,” said Richardson.

“It’s in a very prominent spot; I’m happy that the core committee on the building project decided to do something out of the ordinary there rather than just utilitarian lighting,” he continued. “The idea of the integrated science building is to bring departments and people together—this is a tangible representation of that idea.”

The final of the four designers, David Griggs, will give his presentation on Friday, January 25 in the Gould Library Athenaeum. In February, a recommendation will be made by Light Fixture Design Committee, according to Hofmeister.

“The Light Fixture Design Committee will recommend a designer based on their meetings and feedback from the community,” said Hofmeister. “The recommendation will go to the Core Committee, which will make the final decision regarding the lighting designer.”

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