Inspiring light transforms a neighborhood
Terrarium is a public art project, installed in 2005, that reflects the evolution of Tribeca — a New York City neighborhood constantly in flux. However for 10 years and counting, Terrarium has steadfastly lit the lobby of a New York City landmark building, built in 1881, with a Color Kinetics LED lighting system.
From dusk to dawn, shifting patterns of light radiate from an assortment of bubbles mounted on the walls. Visualized by artist Grimanesa Amorós of Amorós Studio, the installation was intended to inspire reflection. "To passersby on the street, it is an alteration of a familiar landscape, a moment to reimagine their daily world," she said.
Strands of iColor Flex SLX, a flexible LED light strand that can generate countless colors and effects without the constraints of fixture size, shape, or space, illuminate the bubbles. The strands are mounted along the wall with a bubble placed over each LED node. Using iPlayer 2, a compact multiple show storage and playback system, Amorós programed a lighting sequence in just a few days that would continuously astonish Tribeca pedestrians.
"I'm very satisfied to use the Color Kinetics products in my work," said Amorós. "I was able to achieve the color of lights that wouldn't have been possible at the time. Knowing the products were guaranteed to work for a very long time was another persuading factor."
The light display operated at all hours for its first eight years, until a timer was set to illuminate the bubbles only during the evenings. Despite running for over 70,000 hours none of the fixtures have failed. The only updates made in 10 years were to two power supplies after Hurricane Sandy hit the city in 2012.
Terrarium has boosted tourism and business in the area. Many private events and exhibitions have used the public art piece as a backdrop. Tours around the Tribeca neighborhood have increased, and Terrarium is one of the stops.
Since 2005, the color-changing light sequence and intricate imagery within the domes of Terrarium have caught the eyes of visitors on a daily basis. Many believe the installation is new and incorporates the latest LED technology. However, Terrarium has simply proven that quality LED lighting is a practical solution for a long-lasting display of art and creativity.