By the end of June, the Port Authority Bus Terminal will be awash in graphics and light when a 6, 000 square foot stainless steel fabric embedded with LED lights wraps its way around the corner of 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue. The technology, known as Mediamesh, was developed by GKD-USA, a collaboration between a German light engineer firm and an American metal fabric manufacturer. The product is only four years old and allows LED imagery to wrap around buildings without disrupting interior views to the outside. But in the case of the Port Authority, the mesh allows exhaust fumes to escape while masking several giant X-trusses, a facade hasn’t exactly endeared itself to New Yorkers.
This is the largest scale application of the technology to date in New York (it’s also used on a smaller scale at the Crowne Plaza a few blocks away in Times Square). And while the Port Authority will likely be using the signage for advertising, the medium has been used for art installations, like a 4,000- hour video loop of a woman basket weaving that graces California State University’s Madden Library in Fresno.
Tom Powley, president of GKD-USA, said that because the metal fabric is a tensile structure it can be hung over a large area without the need of extensive steel support.
For the second phase of the project the remaining uncovered trusses will be lit by LED lights that face the surface of the truss. A lighting program will pull the dominant color from the billboard display and this will dictate the color of the light.
Preferable viewing distance to see the photo imagery of the corner display ranges from 80 to 100 feet. The space between the light bands determines the translucence of the material from the street level. In some cases revealing the facade may desirable, but in the case of the Port Authority, the weave may end up a bit tighter.