A Valentine for Times Square

Does Times Square need a large pulsating interactive heart sculpture? Perhaps no, but BIG, the architecture and urban design firm led by Bjarke Ingels, thought so. Kicking off a “month of romance” in New York City, BIG’s installation is another example of the total transformation of Times Square from seedy peep-show central into a tourist-friendly entertainment center and outdoor mall.

According to BIG, “BIG♥NYC,” its 10-foot tall glowing heart sculpture, is made up of 400 transparent, LED-lit acrylic tubes, which form a cluster of lights around the heart. 

But this big heart is plugged in, responds to its environment, and brings a touch of human interactivity to the overwhelming sea of billboard ads. In the middle of pedestrian traffic, the “hovering heart will appear to pulsate as its tubes sway in the wind.” And here’s the fun part: when people touch a “heart-shaped sensor,” the heart will glow brighter and beat faster as “energy from their hands is converted into more light.”

Ingels said: “The heart reflects what Times Square is made of: people and light – the more people, the stronger the light.” BIG project leader Daniel Kidd added: “Like a daisy chain of human contact, the more people who hold hands or make contact with others while touching the heart, the brighter and faster the heart will pulse.”

Tim Tompkins, President, Times Square Alliance, wants couples from around the world to come to Times Square to declare their love this year: “What better place for couples to celebrate love and public art than in the heart of Times Square.”

Even usually brusque Times Square safety officers seemed to bask in the heart’s glow.

This is the fourth year Times Square has created a public art work for Valentine’s Day. For this one, the Times Square Alliance partnered with BIG, Flatcut, Local Projects, and Zumtobel.

Visit before it’s gone on February 29 (2012 is a leap year) or see a slideshow.

Also, learn more about the upcoming re-design of the Times Square pedestrian mall.

Image credits: (1-3, 5) Ho Kyung Lee, (4) David Sundberg / ESTO

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