For The Love of Design
Each year, Times Square in NYC celebrates the Valentine’s Day by erecting a heart shaped sculpture at its center. This year’s installation is designed by Reddymade.
Bright lights, thousands of pedestrians from all parts of the world, strange mascots, the buzz of traffic, the constant energetic eruption of noises and movement. Times Square is a chaotic, dynamic monument to the high-energy and diverse city it is found in.
And every year, AIA New York invites architects and designers around the world to compete in the annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition, in order to inspire love, hope and unity in the city. Each year, the design is exhibited in the famous square throughout the month of February. 2019 marks the 11th year of the annual competition.
The challenge consists of designing a public art sculpture in the shape of a heart that embodies the holiday’s warm sentiments in its unique context.
This year’s installation explores how love can be found at the crossroads of difference and equality.
In popular culture, X is the shape of interpersonal and civic love: it can represent a kiss, and it is also the mark used in voting ballots. In addition to the Valentine’s reference, the design is also a nod to Times Square as a great crossroads of people, places and cultures.
The structure takes its form from its name, and is made of 2 crossed aluminium planes forming a giant “X”. The planes create a space below that can be a passageway or a small shelter in the middle of the ever-shining screens of the square. As more people enter this space, the brighter the X glows.
When viewed at an angle, the round openings at the center of the planes form a heart.
2018: Window to the Heart
by: Aranda/Lasch + Marcelo Coelho
Located in the one of the most instagrammed locations in the world, the 2018 Valentine Heart was designed as the “world’s largest lens.”
The 3-D printed design reflected and distorted the lights of Times Square, creating a unique backdrop for countless selfies. While the structure contributed to the digital fame of the location, it also played with the concept of looking through the lens of the eye and of the camera.
2017: We Were Strangers Once Too
by: The Office For Creative Research
The 2017 Valentine Heart called “We Were Strangers Once Too” aimed to honor the immigrants of New York City, highlighting their role in the development and current identity of the city and celebrating diversity.
The scheme consisted of 33 poles, each one depicting pubic data on the foreign-born residents of NYC. However, when viewed at a distance, the poles would take the shape of a heart.
2016: Heart of Hearts
The design by Collective-LOK in 2016 featured a ring of 12 gold-tinted, mirrored surfaces forming heart shapes. At the centre of each heart was a small “kissing booth”, offering both privacy to the visitors and a sense of publicity through kaleidoscopic reflections.
The winning design in 2015 aimed to bring the visitors of Times Square together through music and joy.
Glowing and beating at a rhythm that changes according to the proximity of the passers-by, Heartbreak allowed people to use different types of percussion instruments embedded in the sculpture to join in and partake in an urban concert.
by: Young Projects
Horoscopes can play a crucial role when it comes to romantic prospects. And the 2014 Valentine Heart focused on this belief to create a playful sculpture.
Aptly named Match-Maker, the design aimed to cosmically connect people in one of the world’s most visited squares according to their astrological signs. The structure consisted of a curious tangle of red pipes leading out to 12 points in a circle, marked by astrological signs. Standing at the point of your star sign would allow you to see 4 of your most compatible signs through the periscope system in the pipes.
The playful structure looked like a heart from some perspectives, whereas from the others would appear to be a complex, incomprehensible tangle.
by: Situ Studio
Constructed from salvaged debris after the devastating Sandy hurricane, the winning design of 2013 was a ribbon of wood panels gradually rising from the ground to create a semi-enclosed, lit up space. The structure was seen as an epitome of how love can bring people together during the hardest of times.
2012: BIG ♥ NYC
by: BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group)
BIG’s winning design for the Valentine Heart competition was a 3m tall red heart glowing in a cube of acrylic tubes. Touching the heart-shaped sensor placed in front of the structure would make the heart glow ever brighter and the pulse beating faster. The more people joined hands, the longer the chain became, the brighter the heart would glow.
The design very much reflected the location it was in: just like the Times Square, the sculpture was made of light, love and connection.
by: Freecell and Peter Dorsey
LightHearted was a lightweight structure, consisting o 5 pairs of aluminium loops connected with rotating joints. The loops were covered with a red fabric, which slightly reflected the light and allowed the wind to pass through.
During a 10-day event, groups of 6 people volunteered to hold up each of the panels for 15-30 minutes at a time, to create the shape of a heart. As a result, the Valentine Heart became a sculpture powered by people, team work and conversation, untethered in the mornings until a stream of people gather to hold it up.
2010: Ice Heart
by: Moorhead & Moorhead
The winning design of 2010 was a 3m tall heart made of bricks of ice. The structure had a kaleidoscope effect, reflecting the colors, the light and textures.
2009: Valentine to Times Square
by: Gage / Clemenceau Architects
The first-ever design of the annual Time Square Valentine Heart Design Competition was a big heart shaped sculpture, designed in collaboration by Gage and Clemenceau Architects. The structure, made of a delicate steel sheathing over shelves of colourful led lights, celebrated the intersection of technology and tradition.
For more information:
- Times Square Arts (External link)