“Energy Flow” Lighting on the Rachel Carson Bridge
Image by Larry Rippel
Energy Flow was a temporary lighting installation on the Rachel Carson Bridge from November 2016 through April 2018. The project was initially commissioned to celebrate the City of Pittsburgh’s Bicentennial in 2016, and was extended for a longer run due to its popularity. The project was a collaboration between environmental artist Andrea Polli and Ron Gdovic of WindStax, a Pittsburgh-based wind turbine manufacturer.
Over 27,000 multicolored LED lights positioned along the bridge’s vertical cables showed a real-time visualization of wind speed and direction as captured by a weather station located on the bridge. The electricity needed to power Energy Flow was generated by sixteen wind turbines attached to the catenary arches of the bridge. Energy Flow’s wind turbines and data collection units were engineered by Pittsburgh-based wind turbine manufacturer WindStax. The sustainable energy-centered project was a fitting tribute to Pittsburgh environmental pioneer Rachel Carson for whom the bridge is named.
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Video: Wind-powered LEDs on a Pittsburgh bridge create a dazzling light show
“Energy Flow” debuted in downtown Pittsburgh November 2016. See the breathtaking light display for yourself in this short video.
Video: Behind-the-scenes and the making of “Energy Flow”
This Pittsburgh bridge will shine thanks to wind and 27,000 LED lights creating an “Energy Flow”
Energy Flow was presented by Covestro. Electric infrastructure and fiber optics provided by Duquesne Light Company and DQE Communications and logistical support provided by Allegheny County. Additional partnership support provided by City of Pittsburgh, Riverlife and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.
Energy Flow debuted at dusk on Comcast Light Up Night November 18, 2016. The project was selected by the Pittsburgh Bicentennial Steering Commission Bridge Committee after a national call for bridge lighting ideas to celebrate the city’s 2016 bicentennial. The committee was co-chaired by Riverlife Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Jay Sukernek and Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership President Jeremy Waldrup.
After four months of operation, Allegheny Council Council voted to extend the duration of the project on the county-owned bridge to over a year due to its popularity. The scheduled rehabilitation of the Rachel Carson Bridge at the end of 2018 created the need to permanently remove the project. After 18 months in place over the Allegheny River, Energy Flow was turned off on April 9, 2018 with removal happening several days later. Many of the installation’s elements were marked to be recycled into other projects, and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto expressed interest in working with Riverlife to develop plans for permanent lighting on the Rachel Carson and other bridges downtown.
Special thanks to the following people who helped make Energy Flow possible for the Pittsburgh Bicentennial:
Bicentennial Commission’s Bridge Committee
Jay Sukernek, Riverlife, Co-Chair
Jeremy Waldrup, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Co-Chair
Renee Piechocki, Office of Public Art
Mitch Swain, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council
City of Pittsburgh
Andrea Polli, Professor of Art & Ecology, the University of New Mexico
Chris Clavio, ClaviOn Unlimited ,LED Infrastructure and Hardware Design
Eric Geusz, The Social Media Workgroup, Programming and Design
Jared Rendon Trompak The Social Media Workgroup, Technical Assistance
With additional support from The UNM Mesa Del Sol Endowment, the Compton Foundation and the Carnegie Institute for Carnegie Museum of Art