While we were doing “Into the Woods”, Richard Nelson asked me to become a partner to market the tracking software that he and Eric Cornwell had created and to do architectural lighting.  So he and I and Tina Charney, another lighting designer, formed Lucida Corporation.

In architectural lighting the job to proposal ratio is very low; I imagine somewhat akin to an actor’s job to audition ratio, but the research can be interesting.  We worked on a proposal to re-light the façade of the Paramount building in Times Square.  This involved Richard and I taking photographs and measurements by going out on to the parapets and setbacks, getting into the clock tower, and climbing into the 19’ diameter glass globe atop the building.  Nothing came of that research other than a unique NY adventure.

One job we did get was lighting the exhibition spaces of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.  The interior design firm was Donovan/Green.  Nancy Green was concerned about the look outside the windows of the Oval Office replica.  Most presidential libraries try realistic presentations that don’t work very well.  Richard suggested having Doug Schmidt, a theatrical scenic designer,  create a theatrical cyclorama that we could light with theatrical equipment – this would also exempt that lighting from the strict California energy codes.

White House Creative Commons

To research this, Allen Wilpon from Donovan/Green and I traveled to Washington to see the real Oval Office.  After going through the security gate, the guard directed us to head up the path and go through the French doors.  When we got closer it appeared the whole front of the White House was made of French doors.  We picked one and ended up in a basement service area.  After several minutes of being lost, someone asked if we needed help and escorted us upstairs.  The Secret Service agent on duty outside the Oval Office took us into the empty room.  We asked him if we could go outside to look at the trees and shrubs outside the windows – he said yes.  We asked if we could take pictures – again he said yes but added ‘just don’t take any that might show the thickness of the protective glass behind the desk’.  We agreed and he left us alone.  We went outside to look at the foliage, went back inside, took lots of photos for Doug and Richard, all unescorted.  It seemed strange but maybe working on Ronald Reagan’s Library brought certain privileges.

Toward the end of the project, in Simi, California, Richard and I were finishing the focus of the exhibition lights when the project director came and said he wanted to introduce us to someone.  He took us out to the lobby to meet Nancy Reagan who in turn introduced us to her next-door neighbor, Michael Jackson – a truly surreal day at work.