Tower Lighting Configurations

Carl J. Eckhardt Jr. never won a Nobel Prize for his work with light, but he started some great University of Texas at Austin traditions.

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 University, 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 Configurations


Standard white Tower lighting

Tower entirely white

Standard Tower lighting configuration








Orange Tower lighting

Tower entirely orange

  • Faculty academic achievements (Academic Convocation)
  • Student academic achievements (Honors Day)
  • Staff achievements (Staff Recognition Day)
  • Academic team achievements with #1 displayed
  • 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 lighting with orange top

Orange top with white shaft

  • Football regular season victories.
  • Football bowl game victories other than national championship
  • Other events at the president’s discretion





Orange Tower lighting with No. 1 displayed

Tower entirely orange
with #1 displayed

  • National Championships
  • Other events at the president’s discretion











Darkened Tower

Darkened Tower with
white cap and observation deck

(all other levels dark, including windows)

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









Orange Tower lighting with special numbering effect

Orange Tower lighting with fireworks display










Tower orange with special effects

(fireworks, numbering)

  • Commencement
  • Other occasions at the president’s discretion











More About the Tower