ANN ARBOR—A research collaborative comprised of two University of Michigan faculty members and an executive of Creative Many Michigan is one of three teams selected to develop public art and light projects for the undersides of three viaducts located in Midtown Detroit's TechTown district.
The collaborative, r+d LAB, is made up of John Marshall, associate professor at the U-M Stamps School of Art & Design; Karl Daubmann, professor at the U-M Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning; and Cézanne Charles, director of creative industries at Creative Many Michigan, whose aim is to cultivate the arts, culture and creative and design industries in Michigan.
Created for the Midtown Viaducts Public Art + Light Project with funding from the New Economy Initiative and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, r+d LAB's project "Resonance" will transform Detroit's historic Second Avenue viaduct into a vibrant pedestrian walkway.
"r+d LAB is committed to working to generate creative, environmentally responsive, innovative solutions to Detroit's urban challenges," Marshall said. "Built in 1934, the once magnificent Second Avenue viaduct had been poorly maintained and lacked adequate lighting, contributing to perceptions of the district as unsafe. We wanted to create a space that would make tangible the movement and meeting of passersby and amplify wayfinding with light, transforming the experience and usability of the space."
"Resonance" builds on the naturally occurring bands of dark and light created by the viaduct's arched openings, amplifying this sequential lighting and patterning as the user moves deeper into the space and in response to the presence of multiple people.
Consisting of 22 LED light boxes mounted on the viaduct walls and ceiling between each viaduct archway, "Resonance" increases the amount of available illumination the farther into the space one walks from either side.
Each LED unit will have a range of sensors that trigger the lighting in response to the number, speed and direction of pedestrians in the space, which will generate a "pressure wave" of increased illumination in advance of people as they walk. This wave will then burst and diffuse in a cascade of ripples when it meets the wave of someone coming from the opposite direction.
"From low-tech to interactive light experiences, the work of these artist teams exemplifies experimentation and new ideas, further positioning TechTown as an innovation district," said Susan Mosey, president of Midtown Detroit Inc., the organization administering the Midtown Viaducts Public Art + Light Project.
"Resonance" will begin construction this summer.