UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Facilities Operations up in the clouds

Photo of Jay White changing bulbs in the Recital HallUNCG Music’s ensembles and performers reach new heights in the Recital Hall throughout the year. At year’s end, it was Facilities Operations’ turn. Literally.

With the students away for holiday break, they used a hydraulic lift to allow them to do maintenance high above. Now, every bulb in the hall is ready to light up the performances.

The “clouds” high above the seating provide lighting for the stage.

Jay White was lifted onto the clouds to replace burned out bulbs. “I don’t have any problems with heights,” he says. “You just have to get up there and do it.”

“Forty-one lights were out, of the cloud spot bulbs,” Mark Cable says. There are 60-something in total, he says. They replaced all of them.

“Working in the new Music Recital Hall on the ‘clouds’ is difficult due to the stress on your body climbing around all of the electrical components,” notes Guy McGayhey. Safety is always top of mind. “Jay had a body harness on and he was tethered to the support system of the cloud.”

“I believe they’ll notice a big difference,” Jay White says. He explains that the lighting controller never uses all the lights at one time, but now will have more at his disposal at any given point during a performance. “Now they can select exactly what they want.”

The other music halls on campus are less challenging for them, says McGayhey. All of the lights above Aycock Auditorium are accessed via a catwalk high above, he says, and the same goes for the Organ Hall.

Mark Friddle was also high on a ladder, changing other bulbs in the hall that day. The entire work team consisted of Guy McGayhey, Mark Cable, Mark Friddle, Teddy Hyatt and Jay White.

It’s sometimes time consuming, getting to these fixtures. Mark Cable puts this in perspective.

“It is apparent that lighting designers and architects haven’t changed a lot of light bulbs in high ceilings. If they did, they would give more thought to how the products they specify will be maintained,” Cable said.

How so? If they use regular shaped bulbs in an open housing, he and his team can reach them with a telescopic pole to screw and unscrew a bulb. They even have a tool covered with small suction cups to stick onto spot bulbs that have a flat face.

“The new CFL bulbs that come in unconventional shapes prevent the use of the telescopic pole, because there is not a tool made to grasp these unconventional shapes. Fixtures that have lenses or in which unconventional bulbs are used, require hands-on work to remove them.

“In rooms with a high ceiling, where the chairs are mobile, we can get a lift into the room and use it to get to the fixtures.” That’s what they did from the stage, in the Recital Hall.

And what about those high ceilinged halls on campus with fixed seating?

Facilities Operations has to set up scaffolding.

“This often means that four persons will be needed to set up the scaffolding over the seating, someone climbs it to service the fixture, we tear it down, move it, and start the process over again for each and every bulb that needs changing,” Cable says.

“So, next time you look up at the lights in Sullivan Science’s Room 101, the EUC Auditorium, Cone Ballroom, the large teaching classrooms in the new School of Education, you may wonder, ‘What do they have to do when that light goes out?’”

Now you know.

By Mike Harris
Photo: Jay White changed bulbs in the “clouds” in the Recital Hall during Winter Break