On your work on the Marcus Center in Milwaukee, you had to create an exterior exhibition of projections on the façade of the building. What were the challenges?
The challenge was to create a piece of art, not just a building covered with red, blue, and green light. So many of the projects I see are bludgeoned with color. This challenge was about making something that was respectful and memorable.
Have you ever done anything like that before?
The Entel Tower in Santiago, Chile was the first automated color-changing building in the world. It also had soft blends of color and became the icon for Entel Communications, the largest telephone company in Chile.
What is the best career advice you've ever been given?
David Rockwell pointed out that, “It is okay to be unreasonable.”
Upon meeting Daniel Libeskind for the first time, we discussed the status of the Sobella project in Las Vegas. I said we were agonizing over the lighting of his ceilings, and he said, “Nothing great happens without agony.”
As I was choosing which college to attend, I asked my father whether I should go into theatrical lighting design or electrical engineering. He did not have the luxury of making that choice and worked as a machinist for 35 years. His words were, “Do what you love the most.”
What has been the proudest moment in your career?
There have been many. I think I am most proud of the development of our younger designers (they are all younger than I am). Examples come every week when a client calls with praise for a designer's work overseas or in the States, or the number of employees we have been able to assist in purchasing homes through the benefit of their hard work in lighting design.
What piece of equipment (doesn't have to be lighting) can you absolutely not do without?
My role is that of a painter, trying to create a beautiful image with a foreground, background, frame, and focus. I carry a small fisheye mirror that gives me the 50' view of a project when I'm standing next to it. It's kind of like aesthetic distance in your pocket. I also carry a small spectroscope that gives me a visual representation of the wavelength of the light source I'm viewing. This keeps me in touch with the colors that are available, similar to the way old painters ground their own colors.