Light artist Bill Fitzgibbons has transformed a dark and disused 1931 underpass with a vibrant glowing LED art installation. Dubbed “LightRails,” the project casts thousands of colors underneath the historic 18th Street underpass in Birmingham, Alabama. The installation was created with REV Birmingham, to bring the community together in a celebration of art and light.
The 18th Street underpass features delicate Art Deco architectural details, and passes through the popular Railroad Park in Birmingham. It connects two major areas of the city, the Parks District and the city center. Fitzgibbons’ installation is intended to guide the way between the two areas by welcoming visitors with his vibrant public art. The LED network is made up of 250 units, all linked to a computerized system that allows Fitzgibbons to program 16 million different colors and frequencies. Specific programs can be scheduled for specific times, allowing Fitzgibbons to control the mood of the tunnel through color and movement. The undersides of the underpass are smooth and flat, making for the perfect projection surface.
Aside from creating a warm and glowing rainbow art installation, LightRails also serves a function by lighting up the dark shadows of the covered walkway. The changing lights will encourage pedestrians and bicyclists to feel safe will traversing from one area of Birmingham to the next.
To kick off the installation, the city held a celebration that drew thousands of locals to the bridge. Fitzgibbons and the city hope that the project will invigorate the city and help to welcome visitors to new areas.