International Dark Sky Places

Stars over Big Bend National Park by Tyler Nordgren

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Looking to the stars: Christopher W. Walker











WalkerReal estate developer, lawyer, inventor, and philanthropist, Chris Walker passed away at his home Wednesday, August, 31, after a prolonged struggle with multiple myeloma. He is survived by his wife and two children.

As CEO and founder of Walker and Company, he developed thirteen office buildings, primarily in Reston, Virginia starting in the 1970s. He was intimately involved in the design of his buildings and saw quality outdoor lighting as an essential part of the design esthetic. This interest drew him to become an early advocate and supporter of the Virginia Outdoor Lighting Taskforce.

Chris Walker is best known to the dark sky movement for his longtime support of IDA and funder for some of its major initiatives, including the Model Lighting Ordinance and the opening of the Office of Policy and Government Affairs in Washington, D.C. However his primary contribution to IDA was his generous investment of time and energy to help it grow and achieve its full potential. Over the last twenty years he was a director, officer and trusted advisor to IDA.

Chris’ early contributions catapulted IDA from a mostly volunteer organization to a working office with paid staff in the late 1990s. He supported research and development of the Night Sky Brightness Monitor, a pioneering technology to automatically measure sky quality in a remote location and compile the data in a central database. This technology could revolutionize the methodology for sky brightness measurement and allow a comprehensive database to be compiled for the first time.

Recently he was sponsoring the development of a low cost device that uses a consumer CCD camera to analyze glare.

In addition to his unparalleled generosity to IDA, he served as chief editor of Visibility by Design, a simplified and common sense guide to outdoor signage and sign lighting.

Chris was a firm believer in applied technology. He utilized this concept in many of his projects, including Operation Match, a pioneering computer dating service which he co-founded in the 1960s as a graduate student at Harvard University.

At the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, Chris sponsored a lab to apply proteometric technology to blood cancer with the goal of finding successful treatment through a combination of existing technology. This funding has helped to generate a listserv uniting blood cancer efforts worldwide.

Closer to home, he founded the Dulles Corridor Users Group, which advocates for cost effective mobility in the Dulles Corridor, Virginia's most active business area. He believed in "corridor analysis" and the use of wireless technology to make public transportation and carpooling more effective.

Chris was an avid traveler and fitness advocate, often used a folding bicycle to explore urban centers. He strove to share his insights as a traveler with teenagers in the hope that exposure to other cultures would broaden their perspective of the world and increase their potential and contribution as individuals. To achieve this goal he supported the Experiment in International Living, an exchange program to send first world students to live with families in the third world during summer vacation and vice versa.

walker From left: Arthur R. Upgren, Tim Hunter and Chris Walker during an IDA AGM in 2003. 

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Chris Walker holding the the SKYMONITOR, a project which he helped to fund the research, during the IDA 2009 AGM. 

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IDA Emeritus Dave Crawford presents Chris Walker with an IDA award in 2005.