SOUNDING  | Pennsylvania Convention Center

Location: Pennsylvania Convention Center
12th Street between Arch and Race Streets, Philadelphia, PA
Dates: Permanent Installation
Materials:  Light, electric fixtures, bell tone, aluminum, gold
Dimensions: 20’H x 120’W x 507’L (6 x 36.5 x 154.5m)
Approximate Cost: US$500,000
Daniel K. BrownKristin Jones, Andrew Ginzel

SOUNDING was our winning international competition entry to design the 155 meter long entry space to the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. It introduces a series of fluctuating events synchronized to the flow of traffic in a vaulted, full city block of downtown Philadelphia. A person entering the north access of the 12th Street Underpass would first perceive an arc of cobalt blue light in the distance that outlines the tunnel’s south exit. Two parallel lines of individual blue lights punctuate the perspective along the tunnel’s beams and lead the eye to the archway.

When the traffic light turns red, all vehicles come to a stop and the illuminated archway dims. A bell sounds, rich and full, echoing out into the vaulted space. The tone triggers a wave of arced, white neon lights overhead that illuminate and darken in quick succession moving north. In chorus with this movement, the individual blue lights along the beams extinguish. Randomly placed blue “constellation” lights begin to glow, forming a sky of the vaulted ceiling above.

When the traffic light turns green and the vehicles begin to move, the wave of light returns as a diffuse “echo” among the parallel beams of individual lights. These lights darken, moving southward along both sidewalks before disappearing. The blue archway now relights, and the constellation lights extinguish.

SOUNDING addresses the dichotomy between the static nature of the architectural construct and the dynamic nature the individual’s perception of the space. Investigating varying patterns and velocities, the work questions interrelationships between order and disorder, motion and stasis.

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