Potomac River Kaleidoscope

Project Location: Washington, DC

Client: DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities

This light installation creates refracted light compositions with dichroic and reflective acrylic at each window of the historic Light Tender’s House on the 14th Street Bridge on the Potomac River that once served the drawbridge that is the entry gateway to the nation’s capital, Washington D.C.

Viewed from afar, the installation serves as a rotating beacon of transforming light and color and creates a shared, memorable experience for those approaching the bridge towards the city. The granite tower, abandoned since the 1960s after the highway bridge was reconstructed was long considered an eyesore; it’s been transformed into a vibrant, inviting gateway into the city. A central lighthouse light rotates on a choreographed schedule based on 60 minutes of transformation for 24 hours. A series of six dichroic and mirrored surfaces, one for each facet of the tower, create a kaleidoscope of light, reflections of vehicular and river activity back to drivers as they move across the bridge at 40 miles per hour.

Image credit: Alan Karchmer

WAMU 88.5 What’s With The Kaleidoscopic Tower On D.C.’s 14th Street Bridge?