Latest updates on campus operations and resources related to COVID-19

Learn more

Lighting Configurations

Carl J. Eckhardt Jr. never won a Nobel Prize for his work with light, but he started some great traditions at The University of Texas at Austin. With two engineering degrees and a faculty post, Eckhardt became head of the Physical Plant in 1931. That positioned him to supervise construction of the campus’ new landmark—the Main Building Tower. Eckhardt devised a lighting system to take advantage of its commanding architecture to announce university achievements. When he implemented the orange lighting of the Tower, he demonstrated one of the engineer’s chief contributions to society—applying technology for human purposes.

Eckhardt’s orange lights first flooded the Tower in 1937. In 1947, he helped create guidelines for using the orange lights. A number “1” on all sides highlighted by orange lights signals that the university won a national championship. The full Tower glowing orange alone represents a victory over Texas A&M, Commencement and other occasions the president deems appropriate. The Tower top bathed in orange symbolizes other victories or a conference title in any intercollegiate sport.


Tower entirely white

Standard white Tower lighting
  • Standard Tower lighting configuration

Tower white with orange top

Tower lighting with orange top
  • Football regular season victories
  • Football bowl game victories other than national championship
  • Other events at the president’s discretion

Tower entirely orange

Orange Tower lighting
  • Faculty academic achievements (Academic Convocation)
  • Student academic achievements (Honors Day)
  • Staff achievements (Staff Recognition Day)
  • Academic team achievements
  • UT’s birthday — Sept. 15
  • Commencement
  • Texas Independence Day — March 2
  • Big 12 Athletics Championship — all sports
  • Student organization sports club national championships
  • Other occasions at the president’s discretion

Tower entirely orange with #1 displayed

Orange Tower lighting with No. 1 displayed
  • National Championships
  • Other events at the president’s discretion

Tower orange with special effects (fireworks, numbering)

Orange Tower lighting with fireworks display
  • Commencement
  • Other occasions at the president’s discretion

Darkened Tower with white cap and observation deck (all other levels dark, including windows)

Darkened Tower
  • UT Remembers (annual memorial service)
  • Tower Garden dedication
  • Significant solemn occasions
  • Other occasions at the president’s discretion

Dark Tower with white clock and aircraft warning lights (all other levels dark, including windows)

Dark Tower
  • Symbolize energy savings, Earth Day, Earth Hour, etc.
  • Frequently accompanies similar energy-saving activities within the city of Austin