By Christine Hauser, New York Times
From a soaring skyscraper to the wide span of a bridge, landmarks and buildings around the world are often called upon as torchbearers of grief after mass tragedies.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris went dark after a bomb attack in October that killed hundreds of people in Somalia. The spire of 1 World Trade Center in New York was lit up in rainbow colors last year, one of many buildings to reflect the mourning over the dozens killed in a nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla.
And starting Wednesday, one month after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, at least 52 buildings and other structures in 19 states and the nation’s capital will be lit up in orange for up to 58 nights — one night for each person killed in the massacre.
The campaign was initiated by Scott H. Rechler, the chairman and chief executive of RXR Realty, which owns and operates buildings in the New York area. It was organized with the help of Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit group that aims to reduce gun violence in the United States, where 33,000 people are killed by gunfire every year.
In an interview, Mr. Rechler said he wanted to keep a dialogue about gun control and gun violence going after the Las Vegas shooting. “I began to realize that maybe this is a way to make a statement to keep it in people’s minds — that it hasn’t been resolved,” he said.
“These are iconic buildings that are very visible,” Mr. Rechler added. “It raises awareness.”
The buildings and structures cover the country, from the San Diego Museum of Man, across the Rocky Mountains to the Boulder Courthouse in Colorado, to the Skydance Pedestrian Bridge in Oklahoma City, and further east to the Helmsley Building and 4 Times Square in New York.
Illuminating a recognizable part of a city’s skyline in symbolic lights sends a message of solidarity from a community, Mr. Rechler said. The ZACH Theater in Austin, Tex., is one such structure associated with the heart of a hometown.
It will do so again on Wednesday, but this time in orange, said Elisbeth Challener, its managing director.
The theater “has been a significant part of the Austin community for 85 years now,” Ms. Challener said in an email. “We think of ourselves as a meeting tent where the community comes together.”
The color orange came to symbolize the push to end gun violence after a Chicago teenager, Hadiya Pendleton, was shot dead in her hometown a week after performing at Barack Obama’s second inauguration in 2013.
“In some ways, it is like a candle, and we use candles to honor people,” said John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety.
Some buildings are lit up in orange for a few nights each June to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day. But Mr. Feinblatt said he hoped that since the current campaign would last for a longer period of time, it would linger as a reminder of the human toll of gun violence while debates on gun control legislation, including a ban on bump stocks, proceed on federal and state levels.
Not everyone Mr. Rechler reached out to in a letter was on board. The organizations behind some buildings agreed to join for one or a few days of the campaign, while those who declined entirely spoke of the sensitivity of taking on a political position, he said.
Benjamin Barbera, the curator and operations manager at the Milwaukee County Historical Society, said that starting on Wednesday, orange lights would shine up from below to fill the vaulted windows on the building’s second floor in tribute to the Las Vegas victims.
But the lights will probably be swapped out soon after for other coming events and holidays.
Still, the show of architectural solidarity was expected to have an impact. The building, built in 1913, is a large, wedge-shaped structure that is visible from downtown, and is highly recognizable since local television stations point their weather cameras at it.
“It will be fairly striking for Milwaukee residents to see we are engaging in this tribute or memorial,” Mr. Barbera said.
The RXR platform manages 68 commercial real estate properties and investments with an aggregate gross asset value of approximately $18.8 billion, comprising approximately 30.4 million square feet of commercial properties, inclusive of approximately 6.0 million square feet of buildings securing debt and preferred equity investments, a multi-family residential portfolio of approximately 2,600 units under operation or development, and control of development rights for an additional approximately 3,700 multi-family and for sale units in the New York Metropolitan area as of March 31, 2019. Gross asset value compiled by RXR Realty in accordance with company fair value measurement policy and is comprised of capital invested by RXR and its partners, as well as leverage.