Visitors who approach the District from the south will receive a colorful welcome when the 14th Street Bridge rehabilitation project is completed. The northbound bridge has not opened as a drawbridge since the 1960s, but the Operator's Tower still stands and is now receiving a much-needed facelift as part of the project. That facelift includes the addition of a dynamic light feature in the tower's six windows, that will serve as a beacon into the city.
Artist Mikyoung Kim's kaleidoscope effect design [PDF] was selected from 122 applications [PDF] and four other finalists by the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities (DCAH). Reflective and dichroic acrylic and light kaleidoscopes have been embedded in the frames of the six windows, and displayed with a rotating lighthouse beam. The light feature will be visible day and night.
While enhancing the bridge, DDOT took steps to ensure the display does not distract drivers and slow down traffic [PDF]. The submissions had to meet the following criteria:
- no height extension to the building;
- artwork could not slow down traffic;
- gradual light changes only (no flashing lights );
- the artwork needed to be durable, safe, weather and vandalism resistant, and require minimal maintenance.
In addition, the design installation also needed to be reviewed by the Coast Guard, Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Highway Administration.
Rehabilitation of the Operator's Tower, which includes re-roofing, masonry and tile repair, asbestos removal and glass replacement, began in May 2009. Following completion of the tower repairs, the kaleidoscopic light display was installed. Upon completion of the northbound bridge deck construction, the display will be activated, treating inbound drivers to a colorful welcome to DC.
For information on the Operators Tower, please contact:
Rachel Dickerson, DCCAH