Monumental Light Sculpture to Shine on Bay Bridge
September 18, 2012
A bright idea to create the world’s
largest LED light sculpture on the western span of the Bay Bridge has
gotten a green light from Caltrans, sponsors announced today. Installation
of The Bay Lights by internationally acclaimed artist Leo Villareal
will begin shortly, with completion slated for March 2013. The fine
art piece will remain on the bridge for two years.
Viewable from San Francisco and points north, but not by drivers crossing
the bridge, The Bay Lights will be 1.8 miles long and 500 feet high,
and will pulsate in rhythmic patterns. Villareal’s high-tech art
features 25,000 individually programmable, energy-efficient LED lights
mounted on the vertical cables.
“It’s my fantasy project. There have been a lot of bridge
lightings, but nothing like this,” says Villareal, whose work
appears in the permanent collections of museums and in public spaces
in New York, Washington D.C., and Istanbul, Turkey. “I’ll
incorporate 255 levels of brightness and sequence the lights so that
the piece becomes a mirror to its surroundings.”
Caltrans permits to install, maintain and remove the light sculpture
were awarded in August, allowing pre-construction activities to begin
in September. The first LED lights will be installed in October and
planning has begun for a grand lighting ceremony in early March 2013.
Installation of the LED light system will take place at night to minimize
impact on motorists. A crew of 8-10 electricians from Bleyco Construction
will work Monday through Friday, 8pm to 5am, to install the piece.
Intended as a tribute to the 75th anniversary of the Bay Bridge as well
as a celebration of the upcoming opening of the new East Span of the
Bay Bridge (slated for September 2013), The Bay Lights is a project
of Illuminate the Arts (ITA), a San Francisco-based organization dedicated
to the creation and presentation of community-activating public art.
ITA hopes to shine a global spotlight on the Bay Area’s cultural
community with the installation, which is projected to add $97 million
to the local economy and be viewed by 50 million people, according to
MTC’s Bay Area Toll Authority has been working with Caltrans and
the city of San Francisco to secure permits for the project and, as
the state’s designated CEQA League Agency for the project, is
overseeing environmental compliance.
The Bay Lights is supported by individual patrons, pro bono counsel
Morrison & Foerster and corporate sponsor Commune Hotels & Resorts.
Dedicated solar panels installed in Davis, Calif., by CleanPath will
offset all energy used by The Bay Lights. Organizers have raised nearly
70 percent of the $8 million in private funding required for the project
and now seek $2.5 million in finishing funds. For artist renderings,
an interview with the artist, a video showing the lights in action,
a complete list of patrons and information on how to give to The Bay
Lights, visit www.thebaylights.org.