THE BAY LIGHTS is a monumental light sculpture inspired by the 75th anniversary of the Bay Bridge. Artist Leo Villareal has networked 25,000 individually programmable, white LED lights made by Philips Color Kinetics to create complex algorithms and patterns across the western span. This contemporary art piece is the world's largest LED light sculpture.
The energy-efficient lights are mounted in single strands on the bridge's vertical cables. Together, the lights use 150 to 175 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy while operating for approximately seven hours each night.
It will cost approximately $11,000 per year in energy to light the piece, which translates to $30 per day at $4.25 per hour. Dedicated solar panels installed in Davis, Calif. by CleanPath will offset all energy used by THE BAY LIGHTS.
In August 2012, permits were awarded by Caltrans, in September 2012, the six-month installation process began, and this month, March 2013, THE BAY LIGHTS was unveiled at the Grand Lighting ceremony on March 5.
Installation of the LED light system took place at night to minimize impact on motorists. A crew of 8-10 electricians from Bleyco Construction worked Monday through Friday, 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., to install the piece. Saeed Shahmirzai of Zoon Engineering led the construction effort, which included technical design by Parsons-Brinckerhoff.
The artwork will be on display nightly from dusk until 2:00 a.m. through March 2015. The installation can be viewed from San Francisco and points north, but not by drivers crossing the bridge. Beginning in 2015 will be the three-month removal process.