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Electrosonic installs major LED artwork ceiling in office lobby

A new 24m x 2.4m ceiling art installation, which displays unique, generative images that can never be repeated, is part of the striking transformation of a renovated and repositioned office building lobby in midtown Manhattan, New York. Equipment and engineering support provider VER brought in Electrosonic to help with installing and programming the AV and control systems for the project.

Designed by major US architecture firm Gensler, the lobby also includes a new entrance canopy, street frontage and new elevator cabs modernised for the 21st century. The office, at 250 West 57th Street, is the location of Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT). ESRT owns, manages, operates, acquires and repositions office and retail properties in Manhattan and the greater New York metropolitan area, including the iconic Empire State Building.

The customisable images displayed on the ceiling have been created by lighting artist Marc Brickman and award-winning video artist Lindsay Scoggins. The truly immersive experience evolves over a 24-hour cycle and is comprised of abstract art, live news feeds, galaxy depictions and extreme weather. The technology utilised ensures that the same image will never reveal itself more than once.

The uniqueness of the displayed content comes from algorithms that provide information in real time. Online sources, such as weather, hashtags and trending topics, allow the video artwork’s appearance to adjust daily. For example, if the screen is displaying sunrise the algorithms will correspond that image with real-time weather in New York City. As this input changes daily, the look of the video artwork will reflect those changes.

Driven by custom high-end media server PCs, the AV system provides UHD60 resolution images with VER’s M8 Distribution Platform to 308 LED ceiling tiles, each with 2.88mm pixel pitch. “The M8 is an exceptional product and very easy to work with,” said Fred Davidowitz, Electrosonic project manager.

A QSC Q-SYS Core digital signal processor, amplifier and 16 speakers above the display supply audio throughout the lobby. DMX control cues from the media servers change the colours of lighting fixtures around the display to coordinate with the content. A Creston control system, with custom GUI, was programmed by Davidowitz to provide flexible scheduling, override functions, health indicators and emergency notifications for the AV devices. A Microsoft Surface Pro, displayed like a plaque at the front of the lobby, gives information about the installation and the artists.

AV system engineering was carried out by Electrosonic’s Orlando office, fabrication by its Burbank office, and testing and installation support by its New York office.

“The lobby of this almost 100 year-old building had had some facelifts, but we learned that this was its first full renovation,” said Joe Viola, business development manager at VER. “ESRT wanted to blend art and technology in an elegant way, which can be hard to do especially in a classic, century-old building. The project involved a lot of coordination, but with Electrosonic’s partnership integration talent in key technical areas combined with their supportive approach to business made things much easier.

“Fred Davidowitz and Thursby Pierce at Electrosonic had a great deal of patience in helping us deal with the obstacles presented by the renovation of a high-traffic building, which was only accessible at night,” added Viola. “Their cohesive team worked well together from coast to coast and was key for us being able to negotiate all facets of the project. Partnering with Electrosonic on this job was an amazing experience: Their professionalism, people and technical depth in supporting our LED display systems allowed for a very successful one-of-a-kind project.”