In past articles we have explored the notion of what architectural lighting fixtures are and are not. We have dove into the depths of LED Recessed Multiples. So why not keep the exploration party going? We are. We’re going on a top-notch, LED-infused excursion for real life examples of Architectural lighting that enhances manufactured and natural features while serving as art, all across the USA.
- Sky’s the Limit by Michael Hayden, Location: O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, IL.
The first stop on our light exploration map is currently located in Terminal 1 (United) between concourses B and C.
What Trip Advisor knows as the “Airport Tunnel Light Show” is actually found to be one of America’s 150 favorite structures by the America Institute of Architects. The art piece formally known as, “Sky’s the Limit,” was created by artist Michael Hayden and designed by Helmut Jahn. The art installation was created in 1987 and features a colorful exhibition of light and glass that stretches 744 ft. across the tunnel. At first glance it appears to be neon, but according to the research of Blueprint Chicago, the lights are actually a concoction of argon gas and mercury vapor. The surrounding tubes are all sprayed by enamel ink for impact protection. All of this was accompanied with a 23,600 ft. mirror reflecting over 1 mile of luminous glory. So next time you’re in Chicago, have a gander.
- Portal by Akiko Yamashita, Location: Weller Court Plaza in Little Tokyo Los Angeles, CA.
Photo Credit: Akiko Yamashita
When LED meets concrete, you know you’ve got a winner. Akiko Yamashita is an artist known for creating light instillation pieces all over. It’s no surprise that Yamashita’s latest work, “Portal” would become one of the main attractions in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. This piece stretches approximately 271.5 ft. and stands directly in hallway of the Weller Court Plaza for any curious onlookers to pass through. Akiko designed this particular light instillation to have 7000 pixels of animated LED light that change colors in intervals thanks to a visual platform developer named TouchDesigner. Besides the creative design, the second best part about this LED masterpiece is the fact that it’s completely free and available 24/7.
- Luí na Gréine (Window of a Sunset), Pittsburgh, PA
Photo Credit: Megan Mosholder Portfolio
This interactive LED manifestation was designed for the new Google Pittsburgh office. The piece in its entirety is wrapped around a staircase that stands on both the fifth and sixth floors. Mosholder designed the artwork out of 23,000 ft. of white twine that was coated with UV paint for the ultimate illumination station.
- The Bay Lights, Location: San Francisco, CA.
Photo credit: The Bay Lights Website
It’s no wonder that a striking urban area such as San Fran would have an art installation embedded in one of its most prominent structures. Leo Villareal, like many other light-enthusiastic artists, is known for making light sculptures in some grandiose cities such as New York, D.C, and Chicago. One of his prime pieces is comprised of a monumental 1.8-mile-long establishment of 25,000 LED lights stretching across San Francisco’s Bay Bridge. As of January 2016, Villareal’s piece has been made into a permanent installation for a free, extensively viewable experience.
- Cocoon by Blessing Hancock, Joe O’Connell, and Nina Borgia-Aberle Location: Tucson, AZ.
Photo Credit: Blessing Hancock Portfolio
Blessing Hancock has two reoccurring themes in her artwork, nature and LED lights. The stainless steel sculpture stands approximately 14’ diameter by 38’ in length and was commissioned by the City of Tucson for constant interaction. Onlookers can actually become apart of the art piece by taking a quick stroll through this chromatic concoction. Once inside the cocoon, the colored light converts the inside of the piece into a multi-colored mirror.
- Les Etoiles Gallery Location: New York, NY.
Photo Credit: Barry Underwood Location: Horseshoe Lake, CA.
Barry Underwood’s most recent work can be found in the current Exhibition, “This Land is Your Land,” located in New York, New York. The reoccurring theme of LED light infused art continues but with a twist. Underwood enjoys integrating LED light sculptures in specific landscapes—that’s right, lights on trees guys. With the juxtaposition of nature meeting technology, Underwood has continued to deliver some captivating views. His reasoning behind his art is to “engage in playful interactions and foster environmental awareness.” While you cannot physically see his work in person, it’s still worth the look in his most recent exhibition for the simple fact that it’s beyond unique. The current project will be viewable until April 15th, 2017.
- WAVES, by Daniel Canogar Location: Houston, TX
Credit: Daniel Canogar
A Spanish multi-media artist by the name of Daniel Canogar was commissioned to decorate the 2 Houston Center in Houston, Texas. The medium for this grand lobby was none other than (insert drum roll here) LED lights. Having been built in the 1970’s, the sculpture’s setting stands with Canogar’s reoccurring theme of memory loss. The sculpture actually ended up suspended in mid-air to a metal form and is comprised of 600 flexible LED tiles for the ultimate twisting capacity ensuring the ultimate viewing pleasure.
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Art can use light to convey an emotion, mood or thought, transcending language. Artists have always used light to emphasize certain aspects of their works of art. How light bathes a basket of fruit, for example, or shines on a pearl earring, can accentuate an art work’s attributes. The contrast of darkness with lightness can be alluring. In modern art, only the medium has changed.
Essentially, volumetric lighting refers to the illusion created when a lighting technique suggests a certain perspective, orientation or effect that increases, enhances or magnifies the sense of volume in a given space, context or application. In residential and commercial lighting design, volumetric lighting is often synonymous with task lighting. Light fixtures designed with optics that have a fully luminous and distinguishable beam spread and can be directed, with purpose, to light art, a table, produce in a market, etc.
As the United States of America celebrates Independence on the Fourth of July, it’s worth remembering lighting’s role in the American Revolution. Revere’s light signal was a backup plan designed to warn patriots in Charlestown, a borough across the river from Boston, in case Revere was arrested by the British occupying Boston and thus unable to initiate the ride.
“98% of what gets built today is sh**. There’s no sense of design nor respect for humanity or anything. They’re bad buildings and that’s it.” – Frank Gehry. Fun fact: One of Frank Gehry’s most famous works as an architect is his own private Santa Monica residence.
The Continental Congress passed an act establishing an official flag for the new American republic on June 14, 1777. President Truman declared June 14 as Flag Day August 3, 1949. Anyone considering displaying America’s flag for Flag Day today or on Independence Day on July 4th might want to give some thought to proper illumination.