On Monday, December 3, the “Jewel of Park Avenue” at 230 Park, aka The Helmsley Building, really began to sparkle as building-owner Monday Properties unveiled a new LED lighting display to a crowd huddled at the base of the building, staring upward with anticipation as rush hour traffic swirled around. Monday Properties President and CEO Anthony Westreich and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer stood together to push a giant red button, officially triggering the light show, which flickered into action, turning heads of passers by for blocks around as a live violinist provided musical accompaniment.
Cecil Balmond, who famously left ARUP to start his own firm, Cecil Balmond Studio, a couple years ago, has a mesmerizing new project. The ethereal light sculpture, dubbed Snow Words, stretches out towards the Alaskan sky and illuminates the lobby of the new Crime Detection Laboratory in Anchorage. Suspended between a glazed skylight and a mirrored floor, the 30-foot-high beacon, which opened last month, seems to float within its laser-cut cylindrical shell. Made of LED-lit rods calibrated to a unique sequence, the installation commemorates the officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
They’re being phased out in Europe and in many other countries around the world (but not in the U.S.), but there’s no denying that the soft, yellow glow from incandescent light bulbs—especially the low-Wattage Edison original that’s a staple in any Brooklyn-chic bar or restaurant—hasn’t been matched by fluorescent or LED alternatives. Until now. Lancaster, PA-based artist Luke Anderson partneres with a ceramicist and a glass blower to create a larger-than-life modern version of the Edison bulb called Alva—the famous inventor’s middle name—built with modern LED technology but with the nostalgic glow of the original.
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Frankfurt’s Zeil gets another facelift with an ever-changing media installation
The Zeil is Frankfurt’s main shopping district, a pedestrian-only street bordered by two large plazas. In 2009, Massimiliano Fuksas’ vortex-clad Mab Zeil mixed-use center brought a new face to the street. Not to be outdone by its neighbor, the Zeilgalerie shopping mall began its own facelift the same year. Designed by Wiesbaden, Germany-based interdisciplinary collective 3deluxe, its LED-illuminated black facade brings a new sense of unity to the street and was recently given the Red Dot 2011 design award in the category of Information Design/Public Space.
Digital Clay. Last week at the SIGGRAPH technology conference, a prototype input device called “Recompose” made its debut. TechNewsDaily says that this “marriage of a keyboard and a 3-D tiled surface could be the future of computer interfaces.” Developed by the MIT Media Lab, Recompose will give users the ability to “sculpt” data.
LED Lettuce. The Dutch have amped up hydroponic agriculture with the use of LEDs, notes Good magazine. Scientists in the Netherlands have found that using the red and blue versions of the lights maximizes the effects of sunlight and minimizes dehydration. A bonus result? Greenhouses with rave-like ambiance.
Flat out Platonic. Core 77 alerted us to the thought-provoking carpet designs of Luís Porém, which are based on deconstructed Plato’s beloved polyhedrons.
Biker Rights. A group of NYC lawyers ride to the aid of cyclists disputing NYPD tickets for bell, helmet, and lane violations, reports The New York Times. The law firm of Rankin & Taylor is preparing a class action suit against the city on behalf of bikers.
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The Leonardo Museum’s commission for its new home is part architecture, part artistic innovation.
After years of renovations, Salt Lake City’s Leonardo museum is poised to move into its new home in the city’s former downtown public library building. Conceived in the spirit of Leonardo da Vinci, the art, science, and technology museum hosted a design competition to create a permanent media wall that would represent its creative mission while serving the programmatic role of dividing two first-floor galleries in the new building. Last summer, the museum awarded the commission to recent Columbia GSAPP graduates Yong Ju Lee and Brian Brush, founders of the New York- and Portland, Oregon-based design and digital fabrication practice SoftRigid. Their installation, Dynamic Performance of Nature, is not only a fluid solution to the building’s architectural needs but also a high-tech presentation of real-time environmental data from around the world.
Marketplace had a downright enlightening segment the other day about the potential and peril of using sustainability as a tool for economic development. New York and Chicago have been doing this with some success, and now Cleveland’s mayor wants in on the act. But instead of simply promoting sustainability through tax credits, development bonuses, and mandates, Frank Jackson took a clever approach, saying whomever built a LED plant in the depressed Rust Belt city would get the contract to outfit it with all its civic lighting needs. It was a brilliantly shrewd move, until it all fell apart. Listen in to find out what happened.
A couple of months ago we introduced you to the W Hotel in Hollywood, a collaboration of some of the leading design talent in LA. One of those firms, Sussman Prejza, just sent us a video that shows off their all-important fiery red and multi-colored “W” signs, seen throughout the building. In addition to the behemoth 35-foot-tall W on top of the hotel, the firm designed a slew of animated signs, which sparkle thanks to LED’s, red and/or crystalline filters, and faceted, laser-cut acrylic surfaces. The signs vary from 2.5 to 5.5 feet tall and are programmed with their own dedicated control computer, 10 network switches, 61 power supplies and over 24,000 LEDs. And you thought all that Hollywood sparkle was simple, didn’t you?