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Electrosonic’s New LED Ceiling For Empire State Realty Trust's 250 West 57th Street Lobby

When Anthony Malkin, the chairman and chief executive officer of Empire State Realty Trust, set out to renovate the 537,839-square-foot office building at 250 West 57th Street last year, he wanted a lobby on its own to attract higher-paying tenants.

“I did not want to do another white lobby, I didn’t want to do another black lobby,” Malkin told leading commercial real estate media company Commercial Observer. “I didn’t want plants or a water feature. We wanted to do something that had never been done. And we didn’t want to have one big piece of art. We wanted something special, unique—something that is alive.”

The new Gensler-designed lobby features a 75.7' x 7.8' art installation in the form of an 8K LED screen created by VER on the lobby ceiling. The unique installation used Revolution Display LED tiles and 4K processing to complete the transformation of the repositioned building lobby, modernized for the 21st century.

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The massive screen creates generative, customizable images composed by legendary 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 ensures that the same image will never reveal itself more than once.

“When Marc Brickman approached us with this concept, we were excited to help engineer such a challenging project,” said industry veteran Jeremy Hochman, now with Megapixel VR. “This was the first application of our rec2020 color-capable LED display in a public space. The color performance and viewing angle are just stunning.”

The uniqueness of the screen comes from behind-the-scenes algorithms that provide information in real time. Online sources, such as weather, hashtags, and trending topics, allow the video artwork to adjust daily. As this input changes daily, the look of the video artwork will reflect those changes.

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Every morning, the screen will show a sunrise across its length and weather in real time, then it moves into a variety of other timed segments. The next is news, which is scraped from news websites and flows on the screen with an abstract background. This section is followed by “morphing the present,” where pictures of people—celebrities and public figures—are blended and blurred.

Next is “sea of cities,” which resembles stain-glass windows where the images (taken from scenes in the five boroughs pulled from social media) move up and down, like the waves of an ocean. This is followed by a sunset with a variety of colors—think, Aurora Borealis. The 1s and 0s that make up these images are posted in the next segment called “source code.” Finally, there is “a questionable time,” which features black holes and planets at the end of the day.

Electrosonic programmed and installed the AV and control systems. The project demonstrated Electrosonic's comprehensive approach and intramural teamwork with AV system engineering done by its Orlando office, fabrication by the Burbank, California office, and testing and installation support by the New York City office. 

Key People:

Electrosonic:

  • Fred Davidowitz
  • Thursby Pierce
  • Chris Johnson
  • Elliot Nyfield
  • Rob Tompkins
  • Chris Guest
  • Ameer Tambawala
  • Curtis Cox

VER:

  • Jeremy Hochman (Now CEO with Megapixel VR)
  • John Youngson (Now VP of Sales with Megapixel VR)
  • Drew Atienza
  • Val Pletnev
  • Tom Pagano
  • Joe Viola

Tactical Manoeuvre:

  • Marc Brickman
  • Joshua Fleitell
  • Lindsay Scoggins
  • Ian Shelanskey
  • Elisha Griego

Empire State Realty Trust:

  • Nick Ryder
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