Glowing gift shines a light on our past and future

Sitting in the Great Hall for his grand-daughter’s award of a football scholarship, alumnus Professor Barry Webb AM (BSc ’61 BE(Elec) ’63) struggled to the read the programme in the existing dim light and felt the faculty procession would lack the excitement it deserved.

A highly regarded lighting engineer, who has worked on lighting projects such as Anzac Parade in Canberra and both the Olympic Aquatic Centre and the Olympic Boulevard for the Olympic Games in Sydney, Professor Webb saw the amazing potential of new and restored lighting to show off the historic features of the Great Hall which dates back to the 1850s.

Professor Webb says, “The current lighting is about 100 years old. It gives us an extraordinary opportunity to use the latest lighting technology to re-illuminate such a wonderful space. We have the strong vision to make the Great Hall both a more beautiful and yet functional space for generations of students to come.”

Professor Webb produced a detailed lighting proposal for the University and although very impressive, there was limited available funding. With that in mind, the University adopted the restoration on a possible timeline of 2017. That was until a generous gift announced during Pave the Way – the University’s annual 24-hour fundraising day – boosted the required funds and secured the preservation works on the university’s most-beloved space.

The $600,000 gift from the Family of Dr Charles Warman AM means the works have been accelerated and the project may commence immediately, with the installation of new lights scheduled as early as January 2016.

In addition, Professor Webb is supporting an undergraduate engineering student to complete a paid internship on the project.

“We are very pleased to have enabled the timely realisation of Professor Webb’s vision to revitalise the Great Hall to the benefit of the University and broader community,” explained Mr King, the husband of Dr Charles Warman’s daughter.

The University has welcomed the donation which will be put towards improving the general lighting to enhance the versatility of the hall’s use as well as designing new feature lighting to create dramatic effects.

The donation will also be used towards the design, procurement and installation of new lights in the Great Hall.

“When Edmund Blacket’s magnificent Great Hall was first opened to the public, it was the largest building in the colony and the obvious centre for major cultural events” says Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor and Principal. “One hundred and fifty years on we are delighted that the University’s iconic building continues to be a wonderful venue for a festival of music and culture, intellectual discussion and graduations.”