Digital Clay. Last week at the SIGGRAPH technology conference, a prototype input device called "Recompose" made its debut. TechNewsDaily says that this "marriage of a keyboard and a 3-D tiled surface could be the future of computer interfaces." Developed by the MIT Media Lab, Recompose will give users the ability to "sculpt" data. LED Lettuce. The Dutch have amped up hydroponic agriculture with the use of LEDs, notes Good magazine. Scientists in the Netherlands have found that using the red and blue versions of the lights maximizes the effects of sunlight and minimizes dehydration. A bonus result? Greenhouses with rave-like ambiance. Flat out Platonic. Core 77 alerted us to the thought-provoking carpet designs of Luís Porém, which are based on deconstructed Plato's beloved polyhedrons. Biker Rights. A group of NYC lawyers ride to the aid of cyclists disputing NYPD tickets for bell, helmet, and lane violations, reports The New York Times. The law firm of Rankin & Taylor is preparing a class action suit against the city on behalf of bikers.
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The Leonardo Museum’s commission for its new home is part architecture, part artistic innovation.After years of renovations, Salt Lake City’s Leonardo museum is poised to move into its new home in the city’s former downtown public library building. Conceived in the spirit of Leonardo da Vinci, the art, science, and technology museum hosted a design competition to create a permanent media wall that would represent its creative mission while serving the programmatic role of dividing two first-floor galleries in the new building. Last summer, the museum awarded the commission to recent Columbia GSAPP graduates Yong Ju Lee and Brian Brush, founders of the New York- and Portland, Oregon-based design and digital fabrication practice SoftRigid. Their installation, Dynamic Performance of Nature, is not only a fluid solution to the building’s architectural needs but also a high-tech presentation of real-time environmental data from around the world. “Our interpretation of their goals was that they wanted a piece in their museum that performed on numerous levels,” said Brush. “They want to connect the people of Salt Lake City and Utah and visitors from around the world to a larger perception of awareness of technology and the environment.” After creating initial studies of wall of fins to separate paid and unpaid sections of the museum, Brush and Lee began by scouring the internet for the right material with which to fabricate the design. They landed on recycled/recyclable HDPE (high-density polyethylene) sheets from Minnesota-based Reprocessed Plastics Inc. (RPI). The material met the museum’s sustainable goals and had unique light-transmittance properties, which had become key to the team’s wish to present environmental data through the installation’s lighting. “What was fascinating is that it appears extremely opaque, but when you put a high-powered LED behind it, it lights up. The distance between being opaque and being translucent was very large.” While the 92-foot-long, 1,300-square-foot media wall’s shape would convey what Brush described as a “frozen flow”—representing the museum as the nexus for creativity flowing through the city—it had to be static and structurally tied to the floor for code compliance. Lighting would provide another sense of movement as computers captured information about wind, seismic activity, and precipitation from around the world and relayed it to LEDs embedded in the architectural fins. Lee and Brush created digital fabrication models of their design using Rhino and Grasshopper, then delivered the code to RPI’s facility, where the 4 ½-by-12-foot, ½-inch-thick sheets were machined using a 3-axis CNC mill. Fins range in length from 12 feet to 20 inches, but all are made with two mirror-image plates from which the negative space of the LED chain has been carved. The design incorporates 28 strands of full RGB spectrum Philips Color Kinetics iColor Flex LED nodes and cables, which are daisy-chained through the fins in groups. When the museum opens this fall, SoftRigid’s work will be in good company alongside architect and artist Philip Beesley’s Hylozoic Soil, an interactive geotextile mesh installation that the museum has purchased as a permanent exhibit. All of Dynamic Performance of Nature’s 176 fins have been installed and the lights—1,888 in total—and the data visualization software behind them, are now undergoing their final rounds of testing. In the current incarnation, local temperatures are indicated by LED color, while the display’s speed and directionality mimics wind conditions. If an earthquake occurs anywhere in the world, a distorted world map supersedes weather data and its intensity is indicated with color and blinking that coincides with magnitude. Visitors can also influence LED color by tweeting a color using the wall’s hashtag. Future data visualization could include other data from across the globe, or even other lighting designs by visiting artists. “It’s a scalable site for any sort of light visualization the museum can come up with,” said Brush. “It can be developed in many different ways.”
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.
Marketplace had a downright enlightening segment the other day about the potential and peril of using sustainability as a tool for economic development. New York and Chicago have been doing this with some success, and now Cleveland's mayor wants in on the act. But instead of simply promoting sustainability through tax credits, development bonuses, and mandates, Frank Jackson took a clever approach, saying whomever built a LED plant in the depressed Rust Belt city would get the contract to outfit it with all its civic lighting needs. It was a brilliantly shrewd move, until it all fell apart. Listen in to find out what happened.
A couple of months ago we introduced you to the W Hotel in Hollywood, a collaboration of some of the leading design talent in LA. One of those firms, Sussman Prejza, just sent us a video that shows off their all-important fiery red and multi-colored "W" signs, seen throughout the building. In addition to the behemoth 35-foot-tall W on top of the hotel, the firm designed a slew of animated signs, which sparkle thanks to LED's, red and/or crystalline filters, and faceted, laser-cut acrylic surfaces. The signs vary from 2.5 to 5.5 feet tall and are programmed with their own dedicated control computer, 10 network switches, 61 power supplies and over 24,000 LEDs. And you thought all that Hollywood sparkle was simple, didn't you?
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has completed the installation of LED fixtures on the necklace of the George Washington Bridge. The 156 light emitting diode fixtures replace the span's mercury vapor lamps and are expected to save $49,000 in energy and maintenance costs annually. The LED fixtures have 80,000-hour, or 15-year, life spans, while the mercury lamps only lasted one year on average. The Port Authority also expects the new energy-efficient fixtures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 220,000 pounds per year. The capital project was approved by the authority's board of commissioners in 2007 as part of an initiative to reduce green house gas emissions at Port Authority facilities.