In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Bay Bridge, the city of San Francisco and non-profit Illuminate the Arts unveiled a new light exhibition, The Bay Lights, a 1.8 mile-long installation of 25,000 white LED lights along the West Span of the bridge that spans San Francisco Bay from San Francisco to Oakland. The LED lights are on from dusk until 2:00 a.m. for the length of the two year exhibition.
The project was created by world renowned light artist Leo Villareal. Known internationally for his light sculptures and site-specific architectural work, Villareal’s art is in permanent collections of prestigious museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum in Kagawa, Japan.
According to Villareal in LEDs Magazine, “This isn’t about just lighting another bridge with white or colored light. The Bay Lights emphasizes the use of intelligent lighting, fully utilizing individual control and the ability to create 255 levels of brightness per node.”
The project uses Philips Color Kinetics eW Flex SLX product in a 4200K CCT. These LEDs are made up of flexible strings of individually controllable white LED nodes that are attached at 1-ft intervals on the suspension cables. Each cable features LEDs that light up in specially programmed patterns including animations moving across the span, multi-dimensional waves of movement, and light-level changes for impact.
For the energy conscious, The Bay Lights is estimated to cost $11,000 in energy a year. The Bay Lights organizers believe that the project will bring upwards of $100 million to San Francisco in tourism revenue. While not visible to travelers on the bridge itself, San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee believes that an estimated 50 million people in San Francisco and the North and East Bay will eventually see the lights.
For Further Reading
The Bay Lights, http://thebaylights.org/
San Francisco Examiner, Leo Villareal’s ‘Bay Lights’ set to sparkle Bay Bridge for next few years, http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2013/03/leo-villareals-bay-lights-set-sparkle-bay-bridge-next-few-years#ixzz2NWm7XSqB
LEDs Magazine, Philips LEDs convert Bay Bridge to light sculpture, http://ledsmagazine.com/news/10/3/6