The UT Tower: Lighting the Way

For reasons good or bad, it is probably the most recognizable school tower in America. It dominates the skyline of not only the campus, but much of the city. The 307 foot structure was built from 1934-37 and has stood the test of time. When architect Paul Phillepe Cret designed something to replace the old Main Building, he created something that was much more than “brick and mortar.”

Photographed by every enterprising photographer ever since, it has become a part of the culture of UT, of Austin, and of Texas. Simply googling “University of Texas tower” will yield you enough results to become a psudeo-historian, so I won’t go too much more into the history. But a plain white tower is only half of the story.

Carl Eckhardt Jr. became head of UT’s physical plant in 1931 and thererfore supervised the construction of the UT Tower. He conceived a way to accentuate achievements on the ultimate canvas, a significantly taller and visible tower using lighting. In 1937, he flooded the tower with orange light to signify a victory. He then began to develop guidelines for when the tower should be lit and what variations should apply.

Today there are 9 such variations in use.

1)

1) TOWER ENTIRELY WHITE
– Standard Tower Lighting

2) TOWER WITH WHITE TOP AND ORANGE SHAFT

2)

– Academic and Staff Achievements

  • Faculty academic achievements (Academic Convocation)
  • Student academic achievements (Honors Day)
  • Staff achievements (Staff Recognition Day)
  • Academic team achievements with #1 displayed
  • Other events at the President’s discretion

3)

3) TOWER WITH ORANGE TOP AND WHITE SHAFT
– Athletic Achievements

  • Football regular season victories, except Texas A&M
  • Non-Bowl Championship Series (BCS) victories
  • Other events at the President’s discretion

4) TOWER ENTIRELY ORANGE

4)


– Significant Athletic Victories

  • Football victories
  • Texas A&M
  • Big 12 South
  • Big 12 Championship Game
  • Big 12 Regular Season Team Championship
  • Big 12 Tournament Championships
  • Student organization sports club national championships

5) TOWER ENTIRELY ORANGE WITH #1 DISPLAYED

5)

– Athletic Championships

  • Football Bowl Championship Series (BCS) 1 vs. 2 win
  • NCAA championships for all other sports

6) TOWER ENTIRELY ORANGE

6)

– Campus-wide Accolades

  • UT’s Birthday – September 15
  • Commencement
  • Texas Independence Day – March 2
  • Other campus-wide events at the President’s discretion

7) DARKENED TOWER WITH WHITE CAP AND OBSERVATION

7)

DECK
– Solemn Occasions
Configuration: All other levels dark, including windows

  • UT Remembers (annual memorial service)
  • Tower Garden Dedication
  • Significant solemn occasions, e.g. Texas A&M Bonfire Tragedy
  • Other occasions at the President’s discretion

8)

8) TOWER TOP SPLIT ORANGE AND WHITE WITH ORANGE SHAFT
– Symbolic Campus Events

  • Gone to Texas – welcoming new students to campus
  • Other events at the President’s discretion

9) TOWER WITH SPECIAL EFFECTS OR NUMBERING

9) Celebrating Ricky Williams' Heisman

– Special Effects

Fireworks at the Tower for Divali

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One response to “The UT Tower: Lighting the Way

  1. Pingback: The UT Tower: Lighting the Way (Burnt Orange Living) « Kyle Carpenter's Blog

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