Although the iconic Golden Gate Bridge draws over 10 million visitors each year, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge serves more than double the daily traffic - and it's finally getting its share of the spotlight. In 2013, San Francisco originally installed 25,000 LEDs on the bridge as part of a two year installation, effectively transforming it into the world's largest light sculpture. This week the installation returns as a permanent fixture. Designed by artist Leo Villareal, The Bay Lights ignites the bridge with glowing forms that fall like rain, rise like fizzing champagne bubbles, and swoop across the bay like passing clouds. Hit the jump for a firsthand look at this amazing installation!
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. The state-of-the-art system features advanced cloud-based technology that remotely monitors and maintains the lighting.
The lighting project uses approximately 4.5 miles of cable and 25,000 LEDs with Leo Villareal’s extraordinary algorithms and patterns. When combined, the historic bridge is transformed into a dazzling work of art.