A glowing memorial to Hurricane Sandy
Each year, the Times Square Valentine's Day Heart Design Competition accepts proposals for a romantic public art installation celebrating Valentine's Day. The winning design is then temporarily featured in Times Square. In 2013, for the first time in this annual competition, Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborated with Design Trust for Public Space, to invite emerging architecture and design firms to submit proposals for consideration. Brooklyn-based design firm Situ Studio won with its Heartwalk design inspired by the collective experience of Hurricane Sandy.
Situ Studio constructed Heartwalk with salvaged pieces from the boardwalks of Long Beach and Rockaway, New York, and Sea Girt and Atlantic City, New Jersey. All of these areas were hit especially hard by the storm. "We were interested in creating a room within the city — a public space that was simultaneously interior and exterior. Taking inspiration from the collective experience of Sandy, Heartwalk is a reflection on the things that bind us together, ephemeral and permanent," said Bradley Samuels, partner at Situ Studio.
Heartwalk consists of two ribbons of wooden planks, ranging in length from 305 mm (1 ft) to 2.7 m (9 ft), fluidly lifting from the ground to form a heart-shaped enclosure that is illuminated from within. The slatted construction provides varied views of the interior as visitors move around the perimeter of the installation.
To illuminate the structure, Situ Studio called on Renfro Design Group. "When illuminating the structure, we had to consider that the interior structure and fixtures would be visible from all vantage points and in a very public space," said Eileen Pierce of Renfro Design Group. "Therefore it was important to implement a layout with effective optics, minimal glare, and durability."
The designers illuminated the heart using 31 Color Kinetics eColor Graze Powercore linear LED grazing luminaires in red. The fixtures are mounted on the wooden base within the heart cavity, aiming upwards and grazing the vertical planks. To soften the light on the wood closest to the luminaires, designers also placed diffusion lenses on the top half of each luminaire. The wash of light exposes the rough quality of the reclaimed wood while focusing attention on the heart's interior.
At the structure's entrance, designers placed two eW Graze Powercore LED grazing luminaires in 4000 K. The welcoming white light draws visitors to the site and highlights the beauty of the newly refinished oil-rubbed wood planks silhouetted by the red glow within.
The installation was temporarily installed in Times Square and then traveled to Dumbo and Rockaway Beach. In Rockaway Beach, the installation site had limited available power due to extensive damage to the city electrical grid caused by the hurricane. Power Rockaway Resilience donated a small solar generator to power the installation, which required minimal energy because of the LED lighting fixtures it uses. Heartwalk is now permanently installed in Atlantic City, New Jersey.