• Renderings of Heartwalk by Situ Studio in Times Square as part of the annual Valentine heart competition
    Renderings of "Heartwalk" by Situ Studio in Times Square as part of the annual Valentine heart competition

The annual day of love in the city that everyone loves is perhaps the best day to honor bonds forged between neighbors during Hurricane Sandy, when New Yorkers and New Jerseyans came together to help one another. That civic spirit and activity is what inspired Situ Studio, a design, research, and fabrication firm in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the design for its installation titled "Heartwalk," a public-art piece celebrating Valentine's Day in New York's Times Square. 

The interdisciplinary group salvaged boards from the boardwalks in Long Beach, N.Y., Sea Girt, N.J., and Atlantic City, N.J., to design “Heartwalk.” The reclaimed timbers radiate out, forming the silhouettes of two hearts, one inside the other. The planks for the outer heart lie flat, while the planks for the inner heart rise up. 

Situ Studio worked with lighting design firm Renfro Design Group, as well as JPR Lighting Group and Electric Lighting Agencies to realize the deep red glow of the interior heart. “The design goal was to highlight the interior finished boards and allow the raw cavity and depth to be revealed,” says lighting designer Eileen Pierce of Renfro Design Group. “Visitors would be able to see the interior structure and fixtures from all vantage points, so it was necessary to design a minimal layout that would have effective optics, minimize glare, and survive temporarily in a popular exterior public surround.” Pierce called for 31, 12-inch linear luminaires eColor Graze Powercore fixtures with red LEDs from Philips Color Kinetics to illuminate the interior heart. A 30-degree by 60-degree beam spread on the top half to the lens diffused the light as it hits the wood planks closest to the fixture. For the exterior heart, two 12-inch 4000K eW Graze luminaires, oriented vertically, highlight the oil-rubbed planks at the entrance.

“Heartwalk” was selected by a jury that included Barry Bergdoll, the Philip Johnson chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, as part of a competition held by Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance and the Design Trust for Public Space. This is the fifth year that the competition has been held. Last year’s winning design was by the Bjarke Ingels Group, which put a glowing red heart in a square of vertical glass rods. "Heartwalk" is on view through March 10. For further details, go to timessquarenyc.org