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Bay Bridge gets dressed in lights

If you missed the Golden Gate Bridge’s spectacular birthday fireworks show last week, have no fear. Later this year you’ll be able to witness a surreal light show installation on the Bay Bridge.

Leo Villareal, famous for his illuminated art installations in major museums and at Burning Man, is out to light up the Bay Bridge. His project, The Bay Lights, will cover the west span of the Bay Bridge with over 25,000 individually programmable white LED lights.

The installation is set to coincide with the bridge’s birthday and the opening of the new east span of the bridge.

Villareal said in an interview on The Bay Lights website:

“There’s been a lot of illuminations of bridges, but never quite like this. This is something that is intelligent but smart. each single pixel is controllable but working as a group to create an overall effect.”

As you can see in the video, artistic renderings show the bridge cables wrapped in moving lights that resemble a light show similar to Paris’ Eiffel Tower. However, unlike the Eiffel Tower, this installation will cover a span 1-1/2 miles wide and 230 feet high. Overall, it will be 7 times as large as the Eiffel Tower’s light installation.

The one-inch LEDs will be linked to a network that uses algorithms that factor in traffic, weather and the bridge’s motions to create specific light patterns.

The lights will be flickering away from dusk to dawn and you’ll get a unique light show depending on the angle you’re viewing it. But don’t worry, they won’t be visible to motorists driving on the bridge.

Barring any permit or funding issues, the lights  are expected to be unveiled sometime later this year and stay on the bridge for two years. The entire project is set to cost $7 million, but will be privately funded. The group has already raised $5.2 million, but still needs $1.8 million by July 1 in order to start the installation on time.

The electricity costs of the project — expected to be just $11,000 — have already been covered by a donation from Clean Path in the form of solar credits.

The Bay Lights organization and Mayor Ed Lee also launched a Tech Challenge for Silicon Valley companies and entrepreneurs to create fundraising teams and to use social media to get more donations. Top-raising teams will win various prizes including dinner with Villareal and an invitation to Grand Lighting Gala.

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