Lightweave in NoMa Underpass

Lightweave is a permanent public artwork located in Washington DC’s NOMA district.

Lightweave in NoMa Underpass

Lightweave is a permanent public artwork located in Washington DC’s NOMA district. It translates ambient sounds from the city into dynamic auroras of patterned LED light. Slowly changing effects are activated by the noise and vibration of passing trains, cars and other sounds from the neighborhood. Lightweave animates the underpass and creates a meditative and interactive urban experience.

The artwork consists of six 65’ long curvaceous sections (390’ total) of suspended stainless steel and LED lattices. Each section contains 26 computer-controlled LED modules. The artwork is mounted ~11’ above the sidewalk on a steel column and beam structure that does not touch the underpass above in any way. Sensors embedded a various locations in each section feed information to a computer which triggers variable and overlapping responses from the LEDS.

Typical sound events in the immediate area range from 50dB+ (passing automobiles in the tunnel) to 100dB+ (train horns). Lightweave translates these sound events into fluid wave patterns of light. Similar to dropping a single pebble into an undisturbed pond, waves of light slowly oscillate through the Lightweave. Multiple sounds will create dynamic visual overlaps. The quality and placement of lighting elements will enhance safety and comfort.

Project Details

LOCATION: L-Street Underpass, between 1st and 2nd Streets, Washington, DC.

Future Cities Lab, San Francisco – Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno

Team: Jason Kelly Johnson, Nataly Gattegno, Jeff Maeshiro, Joel Frank, Emily Saunders, Natalie Abbott, Carlos Sabogal, Laura Dell’Anno, Brian McKinney; Assistants during concept design: Ripon DeLeon, Fernando Amenedo, Ji Ahn, Colin Schupman

Fabrication: MACHINIC Digital Fabrication & Consulting, San Francisco

Collaborators: MC Dean (Electrical Engineer and GC); ENDRE Studio (Structural Engineer); Maramoja, NL (Electronics Integration).

Commissioned by: NoMa Parks Foundation

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