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Troy, NY -  5/23/2001

A Family of Lighting Innovators Honored at Lighting Research Center

LRC dedicates Blitzer Design Conference Room, announces Luminaire Design Competition

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) and lighting manufacturer Lightolier today honored a family of true innovators in the lighting industry. The Blitzer family, founders of Lightolier, a leading manufacturer of lighting products and control systems, has played a major role in the growth of the industry.

William Blitzer, former president of Lightolier, his brother, Edward Blitzer, and his son, Daniel Blitzer, visited the Lighting Research Center for the dedication of the Blitzer Design Conference Room. Officials from the LRC, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Genlyte Thomas, which owns Lightolier, also attended the dedication ceremony. Speakers included Mark Rea, Ph.D., Director of the Lighting Research Center, Fred Heller, Chairman Emeritus of Genlyte Thomas, Zia Eftekhar, President of Lightolier, and LRC Professor Howard Brandston, a renowned lighting designer.

In 1904, William Blitzer's grandfather, Bernhard Blitzer, founded the New York Gas Appliance Company, selling gas lighting fixtures in New York City. As electricity became more commonplace, his business became the New York Gas & Electric Fixture Company. After World War I, the company adopted the name Lightolier, derived from "light" and "chandelier." In 1919, Bernhard Blitzer's son, Moses D. Blitzer, who had become involved in the company at age 14, persuaded his father to begin manufacturing fixtures. Weathering the Great Depression, Lightolier continued to grow. A third generation of the family, Edward H. R. Blitzer and William F. Blitzer, began leading Lightolier after World War II. Edward served as its Chairman from 1967 to 1981, and William as its president from 1972 to 1981.

Lightolier, with a rich history of new lighting concepts and innovations, has introduced many innovative products, including track lighting. These were marketed effectively by the company's direct sales force, supported by advertising and merchandising programs, including "Lessons in Lighting" and "Lighting Laboratory" demonstrations.

After the company's consolidation into the Genlyte Group in 1984, William Blitzer served as President of the Litecore Division until 1990. He remains very active in work with the Lighting Research Center, and is a Fellow of the IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America).

The LRC also helped Lightolier to launch a design competition designed to encourage lighting, architectural, and engineering students to explore careers in lighting. Participating students will design a skylight/electric light fixture that comfortably and effectively provides both daylight and electric light under sunny and overcast skies, as well as at night. Persons interested in more information about this competition may contact the LRC.

Lightolier is part of Genlyte Thomas Group LLC, a leading manufacturer of lighting fixtures and controls for commercial, industrial and residential markets. The company was formed in 1998 when The Genlyte Group Inc. and the Lighting Group of Thomas Industries Inc. joined forces to create the powerful new entity. Genlyte Thomas is one of the largest lighting manufacturers in North America.

About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the world's leading center for lighting research and education. Established in 1988 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the LRC conducts research in light and human health, transportation lighting and safety, solid-state lighting, energy efficiency, and plant health. LRC lighting scientists with multidisciplinary expertise in research, technology, design, and human factors, collaborate with a global network of leading manufacturers and government agencies, developing innovative lighting solutions for projects that range from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to U.S. Navy submarines to hospital neonatal intensive-care units. In 1990, the LRC became the first university research center to offer graduate degrees in lighting and today, offers a M.S. in lighting and a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting. Learn more at

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America's first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.