PIFA, the City of Light, and the Lighting of City Hall13 April 2011
Philadelphia City Hall was designed to be the tallest building in the world, the center of the city and a signal of economic growth. It remained the tallest building in the world for eight years, until 1909, and remained the tallest building in Philadelphia until 1987. More than 250 sculptures adorn the building, telling the tale of those who helped found and contribute to Philadelphia's history.
To begin constructing the narrative for the project, Styling a Second Empire: A Light and Sound Experience (http://www.pifa.org/events/980194808), Al Borden, principal of The Lighting Practice, presented his collaborating University of the Arts students with historic photos of City Hall and how it was lit in the past, as well as photos of the numerous sculptures that adorn the exterior and interior of the building. They talked about City Hall's importance architecturally and historically, and about Philadelphia's history and how the city grew up around City Hall.
Borden and the students have since been working on how best to depict Philadelphia's history and most significant eras through a sound and light show. What does history sound like? What imagery depicts different eras? Visitors and residents alike will be able to see how they answered those questions on April 15 when the show debuts, lighting up City Hall and the Avenue of the Arts.
It is a fitting collaboration with PIFA, whose inspiration for the festival is Paris, the City of Light.