The design of the new "Prow Sculpture" at New York City’s Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle adds to the LED explosion in Manhattan that is spreading downtown and uptown from Times Square. The 150’ glass showcase houses 12 groups of three LED panels, which serve as art and also tell the time.
The LED panels are double-sided, in three different sizes: 2’x8’, 6’x6’, and 4’x12’. With a 121’ vertical truss supporting the panels, the entire assembly weighs about 10 tons. Brian Webb designed the sculpture, and David Rome of RomeAntics Productions produced the project. Ted Mather acted as lighting designer, while programmer Paul Sonnleitner worked with a grandMA console. Scharff Weisberg Lighting designed the control systems.
From 4pm to 11pm each evening, the panels are illuminated in a variety of patterns, changing color for three minutes, then holding a look for 30 seconds. This montage pauses every 15 minutes to indicate the current time.
The sculpture was preprogrammed at Prelite New York and also was supported by Prelite’s Rodd McLaughlin onsite. The programming was conducted across the street at the Trump Hotel using a wireless network to run the system remotely. The design team considered this programming to be a technological triumph, since the system worked flawlessly–and continuously–in the heart of the broadcasting center of Manhattan. The team also used a new function on the grandMA, which was initially designed to support the MA media server. Bit-mapped files can be imported and then attached to a user-defined grid. The team created a grid for each size panel, with each LED represented. By moving the imported image through the grid, the system can produce the appropriate output–in this case color–to match the image. This shortened the programming time significantly.
"We couldn’t have done this project without Prelite….," says Ted Mather. "Rodd was indispensable to us in helping determine the best way to use the bit-mapped files and create the grid systems. We got the basic design and timing down in the studio and then once we were onsite–which was for only three days–we ran the cues live for a limited time at night and the remainder of the time fine-tuned the design with visualization software."
The Time Warner Prow has received positive reviews from New York architecture critics for its elegant implementation.