LEADING LIGHTS, Catherine Widgery, 2017
SERVICES PROVIDED: Design coordination, Budget management, Engineering coordination and oversight, Fabricator bid process, Fabrication oversight, Lighting Design development, Shipping, Installation services, Scheduling, Project close-out.
LEADING LIGHTS is a colonnade where each of 34 columns have three panels of dichroic glass to create a triangular lantern mounted on steel poles. These dichroic glass surfaces reflect the surroundings through a veil of color. The colors are always shifting depending on the angle of the sun and the position of the viewer. The columns are exquisite jewels of luminous, transparent color, never the same. When direct sunlight strikes the glass surface, brilliant colored bands are projected onto the ground and nearby surfaces, so the artwork engages a much broader area that its physical boundaries. From some angles in certain lights, they almost disappear before our position or the light shifts and they reemerge as beacons: a gateway. It is this ghostly, ‘there-not-there’ quality that speaks of the sophistication and elegance of the Golden Triangle area of Washington DC, where they are installed. As cars emerge from the underpass below these columns embrace them as they rise up through gateway. Visible from all the surrounding buildings and from all viewpoints, they create a cohesive place in what before was an ill-defined, non place. Each column is fixed at a rotation that is slightly different so different facets of the triangle are exposed in a slightly different way to the angles of light. At night these columns become delicately colored lanterns as solar powered lights installed in the cap come on at dusk. The Golden Triangle symbol expresses the open possibilities of this dynamic area, so it was to take this contemporary vision and apply it to columns and bring color, light and animation to this site. The visual language of the Golden Triangle District as well as the greater DC area is one of grand boulevards with rhythmic repeated verticals whether lines of trees along streets or architectural columns on facades of buildings inspired this concept for LEADING LIGHTS as we are re-imagining that traditional vocabulary in contemporary materials and form.