Warming the winter with innovative light
Located on the Hudson River waterfront in lower Manhattan, New York City, USA, Brookfield Place/World Financial Center is a complex of four postmodern, granite and glass towers comprising more than eight million square feet of premier office space. The complex's centerpiece is a 10-story, barrel-vaulted glass pavilion known as the Winter Garden, whose spectacular view of the Hudson River and spacious exterior plaza make it a popular venue for events, public art showings, and media screenings.
Between January and April 2013, the Winter Garden's interior atrium was transformed into a dazzling light sculpture by celebrated lighting artist and theater designer Anne Militello. Militello was first approached about the project more than five years before its opening by Arts Brookfield, a privately funded performance and visual arts program which commissioned her to create a unique visual art piece inside the atrium.
Militello's design objective with Light Cycles, according to her artist's statement, was to "[celebrate] the visual transformations of nature as expressed through richly shifting colors of light energy." Using an immersive LED lighting system, Militello aimed to enliven the previously cold winter space of the atrium by bathing it in warm, vibrant colors reminiscent of starry skies and flickering candles.
To achieve this effect, the installation required both floodlights to create a colorful wash on the atrium's glass canopy and direct view luminous pendants to give the impression of glittering jewels.
To evenly and beautifully illuminate the steel framework of the Winter Garden's signature bay window — a magnificent 10-story glass arch overlooking the exterior plaza and harbor — Color Kinetics ColorReach Powercore luminaires were mounted inconspicuously among the beams, more than 24.4 m (80 ft) above the garden below. These long-throw floodlights provide the high level of light output and color-changing capabilities required to create a dynamic "canvas of light" upon which the installation could rest.
For the direct-view pendants, Militello turned to 4Wall Entertainment, which designed and manufactured strands of custom mirrored LED disks for this application. The disks were hung at irregular lengths from the atrium's arched ceiling, suspended like stars over the garden's palm trees below.
In keeping with the inspiration of the piece, Militello programmed Light Cycles to create different atmospheres for different moments in daily and weekly cycles. For instance, the LED disks and ColorReach Powercore luminaires alter their color-changing patterns to mark the transition from work week to weekend, and display a vibrant, fast-paced lighting scheme for weekends and special occasions.
"I'm dedicated to Color Kinetics because I need to use the best products out there for my installations," Militello said. "I like ColorReach Powercore fixtures because they allow me to use third-party controllers, playing with the best that the industry has to offer. In addition, their durable construction and heat sinks make me confident that they'll be working for the long haul."