Last night, designers Jack Newell and Seth Unger formally presented their plan to bring a two block stretch of colorful LED lighting to the underbelly of the L tracks along Wabash Avenue between Madison and Adams Streets. Simply dubbed The Wabash Lights, the duo hopes that the new public art installation will draw more people to the area, and create a space that tourists and residents will flock to for placemaking events. The proposal predates the city's official Lighting Framework Plan, however The Wabash Lights could certainly qualify as the designers believe that their proposal could help boost tourism and promote small businesses along the stretch. And although the lights are intended to bring more people to the area, the designers have expressed that the goal is not to "clean up" the area like Times Square per se, but to "highlight, not erase" the stretch of Wabash.
At last night's open house, Newell and Unger invited attendees to visit several different stations to explore the concept, but also as a chance for individuals to share their input. The open house concluded with a demonstration of the lighting tubes. The actual plan calls for 4,000 LED lights, which can be programmed to display an infinite number of color combinations and sequences. According to the team's integration point person, the lighting tubes will be able to withstand the harsh Chicago winters as well as the vibration from the L tracks that they will be mounted to.
All in all, the team estimates that the project will cost around $5 million over its five year lifespan. The lights will consume roughly $37,000 worth of electricity annually. To get started, the design duo will launch a Kickstarter early next year, with a funding goal of $50,000. From there, the team will seek to raise more funding for the project, and if all goes according to plan, the lights could be installed as early as next summer.
·The Wabash Lights [Official Website]
·Local Artists Want to Bring Bright Colorful Lights to Wabash L [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous Lighting Framework Plan coverage [Curbed Chicago]