by Andrew Chalk
This is San Francisco’s Bay Bridge, which was decidedly number two to the Golden Gate Bridge until entrepreneur Ben Davis had the idea of lighting it up in a spectacular mashup of art and technology. The 25,000 LED algorithmically generated light show by artist Leo Villareal went live about a year ago and runs every night. It cost $8m to design, make, install and tear down. LEDs are so efficient that the electricity cost for the two-mile display is only $11,000/year. The whole thing, known as the Bay Lights, is paid for by donations.
I think we should light up Santiago Calatrava’s Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in a similar fashion, raising the funds from a combination of donations and sponsorship. The current night lighting is too puny to display it effectively (in fact, it is so dingy that it lets down the whole design), despite the bridge having distinctive contours that lend themselves to multi-colored lighting – maybe even more dramatically than the conventional suspension bridge design of the Bay Bridge. It would almost certainly be less expensive to implement as it is half the length of the Bay Lights project and has a vertical span of only 400 ft., versus the 500ft. in the Bay Bridge case.
During its two-year life the Bay Lights project is expected to be seen by 50m people and generate $97m additional revenue in local business.
Now who has a business near our bridge and would be willing and capable of getting the ball rolling?