- The Washington Times - Friday, August 24, 2001

President Bush will soon notice a dramatic change when he looks out across the Tidal Basin toward the Jefferson Memorial at nightfall.
The landmark facing the White House — now dimly illuminated with outdated, inefficient light fixtures — will glow inside and out beginning next month with a brighter, money-saving glow.
Thanks to an $800,000 gift from Osram Sylvania, 30 percent more of the memorial will be lighted, while energy output will be reduced by 80 percent.
For the first time, the steps leading into the Jefferson Memorial will be clearly visible at night, along with the front of the portico, the text frieze that encircles the dome inside and the dome ceiling itself.
As it is now, "you don't even know it's there at night," said Lisa Mendelson of the National Park Service.
High-tech metal halide bulbs, used to light stadiums, and tiny light-emitting diodes — the same light source used in cellular phones — will replace incandescent light bulbs, which burn out after 2,000 hours. The new bulbs last between 9,000 and 100,000 hours. Lights in the portico won't need to be changed for 10 years.
An e-mail message will notify a technician automatically each time a bulb goes dead.
"The concept was not to change the Jefferson Memorial but to enhance what was already there," said David A. Mintz, who is designing the new lighting.
The gift coincides with the 200-year anniversary of Jefferson's inauguration and Osram Sylvania's 100-year anniversary.
The memorial, opened to the public in 1943, had no original plans for lights. The current lighting system, installed in the 1960s and 1970s, consists primarily of high-wattage incandescent and high-pressure sodium bulbs to illuminate the 19-foot statue of Jefferson and text panels. Exterior lights — many of which have become overshadowed by vegetation — never reached the front steps.
Jen Larson of the National Park Foundation, the park service's nonprofit arm, said the poorly lighted memorial immediately came to mind when the company offered to enhance a monument.
Work on the improved lighting began in June 2000 and required extensive planning, revision and approval.
Because the project involved a national monument, the designers were under scrutiny from the Park Service and the Fine Arts Commission.
"You can't drill holes willy-nilly," Mr. Mintz said. "You can't drill holes at all, really."
In March, commission members came out to the memorial to watch as workers in bucket trucks held temporary lights in place to demonstrate what the designers had in mind. Commission members even stood in front of the White House to judge the view.
After making recommendations, the panel gave its approval in April.
The lighting of the text frieze alone is a major undertaking. In the end, more than 17,000 light-emitting diodes will line a 3-inch-wide ledge high above the heads of visitors. They will cast a warm glow, a mixture of white and yellow.
"We're not looking to light it up like a McDonald's sign. We just want people to be able to read it," said project manager Dwight Kitchen.
The job is part of a larger Jefferson Memorial renovation.


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