The last time we checked in with Leo Villareal, he had just installed a gigantic glowing LED Buckyball in NYC’s Madison Square Park. For The Bay Lights, Words Pictures Ideas founder Ben Davis called upon the acclaimed artist to create a monumental, first-of-its-kind light sculpture. A team of specially-trained riggers hand-wired 25,000 LED nodes on 300 vertical cables that run the length of the Bay Bridge’s 1.8-mile-long western span. The cables rise over 500 feet high, and the nodes are spaced at one foot increments.

In designing the Bay Lights, Villareal was inspired by the site of the Bay Bridge. The patterns that race across the span call to mind passing traffic and boats, cascading waves, and shifting weather conditions. An estimated 50 million people will view the installation over the course of its two-year run, and the patterns won’t be repeated a single time.

All photos and video by Mike Chino for Inhabitat

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It will cost just $15 per night to light up the bay from dusk until 2am (for a total cost of about $11,000 over two years), and the energy used will be offset through the purchase of solar credits. The project’s $8 million price tag was largely financed by donations, and according to the website it is expected bring $97 million tourist dollars to the local economy. If you won’t be able to visit the Bay Area to check out the installation, fear not – The Bay Lights is hosting a live daily webcast.

+ The Bay Lights

+ Leo Villareal

All photos and video by Mike Chino for Inhabitat