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Hunt Library turns 50, receives exterior lighting in celebration

Hunt Library will gain new exterior lighting in celebration of its 50th birthday. Above is a respresentation of what the animated lighting feature may look like on the facade of the building. (credit: Celia Ludwinski/Photo Editor ) Hunt Library will gain new exterior lighting in celebration of its 50th birthday. Above is a respresentation of what the animated lighting feature may look like on the facade of the building. (credit: Celia Ludwinski/Photo Editor )

This year, Hunt Library will celebrate its 50th year on campus — and students can expect not only a birthday celebration with cupcakes, but also a substantial change to the exterior of the building. In recognition of the library’s 50 years of service to students and the community, the Hunt Foundation will be funding the installation of permanent exterior lighting similar to that of the Randy Pausch Memorial Bridge.

The additional lighting was proposed by the Hunt Foundation’s Bill Hunt after visiting the campus one evening and noticing the lack of lighting in the areas of the library that weren’t being used.

“Bill Hunt, who is a grandson of those who gave us Hunt Library, was on campus one night, and he noticed that the library was not completely lit because there are places that are not being used during the evening hours. He thought it would look better if it were totally lit, so he sent an e-mail to President Cohon making that suggestion,” said Gloriana St. Clair, the dean of University Libraries.

After receiving the e-mail, Cohon enlisted the help of Cindy Limauro, a professor of lighting in the schools of Architecture and Drama. Limaro’s previous work is featured in a number of Pittsburgh’s historical and picturesque sites, from St. Bede’s Church and the miniature railroad exhibit at the Carnegie Science Center to Carnegie Mellon’s own Pausch Memorial Bridge. She also received an Award of Merit in the International Design Awards for her architectural lighting design work in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Dinosaurs.

“President Cohon requested that Cindy do an assessment and help decide whether the benefit of having it look nice would outweigh the costs of having it lit all the time. Cindy was teaching a lighting class at that time and had those students do an assessment of the idea as well. These students came up with the idea of, rather than keeping the pre-existing lights inside the library on at all times, they would rather like to light the building on the outside in the same way that the Pausch Bridge is lit,” St. Clair said.

“The light will be jazzy and fun, like the lighting on the current bridge,” added St. Clair. “We’re all excited.”

Students also seem to be excited about the lighting. “It is a great idea,” said sophomore electrical and computer engineering major Jecolia Longtchi. “We all spend so much time in the library, it might as well be pretty.”

“I think it is an excellent idea,” said a sophomore in H&SS, Christian Aponte. “I enjoy the idea of integrating two of our university’s landmarks to celebrate not only Hunt Library’s 50th birthday, but also our campus’s distinct history in general.”

The new lighting will be unveiled during a formal event thanking the Hunt Foundation for its gift. The event will be hosted by Cohon and his wife in November. This formal lighting will be the final celebration of three currently planned to take place in the upcoming month. “We’re having a party for students, a party for the staff who currently work in the library, and then the third formal event with the Hunt family, the president, and the trustees,” said St. Clair.

The first event, called “Happy 50th, Hunt Library!,” is aimed at including students in the celebration. It will be hosted by the University Libraries. A party for students and other library users, the event will take place on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. on the first floor of Hunt Library. The library will be giving away 1,000 cupcakes, as well as encouraging students to sign an anniversary banner thanking the Hunt Foundation for its funding of Hunt Library and of the new exterior lighting. The banner will become a gift of thanks from library users to the Hunt family members.

The upcoming birthday party was planned and organized largely by the University Libraries’ Student Advisory Committee. Student Advisory Committee member Aaron Gross highly encouraged students to attend the birthday celebration, as the birthday party “is an opportunity for students to create a small thank-you gift for the Hunt Foundation, and there will also be cupcakes to eat.”

“I think the biggest reason for student to be involved in the birthday party, as well as in thanking the Hunts, is the high use of the library. The library’s annual gate count has almost reached 1.5 million. The library is an academic destination, but it also serves as a social destination central to the student experience,” Gross said. “Eating a cupcake and signing a banner is a pretty small time obligation when you consider how important the library is to the average student.”
Editor’s Note: Aaron Gross is a former layout manager for The Tartan.