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LightPlay at Broad & South: Public art makes Center City gateway at new Dranoff residential project

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The City’s latest One Percent for Fine Arts project was recently unveiled, this time featured on Carl Dranoff’s latest new construction project at Broad and South Streets.  LightPlay, created by artists Mags Harries and Lajos Heder’s, will adorn the Southstar Lofts – an 80-unit residential building with ground floor retail that promises to become a significant gateway to Center City for travelers from the south.      
 
While LightPlay was announced as the winner of the competitive process a while back – earlier this year the fixture was chosen through a selection process conducted by the One Percent for Fine Arts Program of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority from well over a hundred applicants nationwide – renderings were recently unveiled and the piece’s function has come into light.     
 
According to the artists, they wanted to complement the theatrical events and art schools in the neighborhood, all while creating a dramatic lighting effect through the use of vertical prism sheets.  “Working with light and shadow insures that the piece will be constantly changing, surprising and remain fresh,” explains Lajos Heder.  “The orientation of the Broad Street Facade facing directly west makes it remain in full shadow until mid-day and then in full sun in the afternoon.”
 
According to Dranoff, his team was looking for an art installation piece that hit home -- exactly what Heder and Harries delivered.  “The Avenue of the Arts is one of Philadelphia’s liveliest, most flourishing neighborhoods, and we were looking for a work of art that would showcase the streets’ vibrancy, and compliment the aesthetics of Southstar Lofts,” explains Dranoff, “and the installation created by Mags Harries and Lajos Heder exceeded our expectations and has captured the energy that radiates from the thriving mix of entertainment, dining and living offered on South Broad Street.”
 
The artists did not forget about one of the installations' main purposes: acting as a gateway to Center City.  To incorporate this function, they utilized the nearby subway stop and featured it in the design.  “The sidewalk in that area is very lively, lots of students passing by, people coming in and out of the SEPTA station. We wanted to make the arrival at the station and walking along the sidewalk more memorable.”  According to the artists, there will be a glazed canopy over the subway entrance using the same light refracting prism sheets that are being used on the building, protecting from the rain and creating a bright light event for passengers emerging from the subway.
 
Once complete, developers of the Southstar Lofts are promising improved urban vitality and more eyes on the street.  The artists behind LightPlay firmly believe their work will have transformative effects as well and “enhance the urban environment and make better places for community activity.”  With lofty ambitions in front of them, Dranoff and company look to break ground in October, with an expected completion date of late 2013, although that has not been officially confirmed. 

Source: Carl Dranoff, Lajos Heder
Writer: Greg Meckstroth
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