“Sensing YOU” & “Sensing WATER” – Illuminating Downtown

Two underpasses in downtown San Jose have been transformed with the help of artist Dan Corson, who began conceptualizing the recently completed project three years ago, CH Reynolds Electrical Senior Project Manager Steve Guyton said. ...

The Santa Clara Street underpass is covered in painted blue circles, and circular lights that change color and the San Fernando Street underpass display is meant to look more like rushing water.

These “Sensing YOU” & “Sensing WATER” installations are defined by over 1000 painted circles and 81 individually controlled illuminated rings that play a variety of patterns and low-resolution mapped video over the ceiling surface of the I-87 highway underpass. The patterns are activated by pedestrians and bicyclists moving through the space- setting off pre-programmed sequences.

“I was given the plans in March 2014. After reviewing the plans and finally understanding this project, I got very excited and I called Dan Corson,” Guyton said.  “I told him that I was the project manager he wanted on this project, and thus, I got the job.”

Guyton said each “halo” light fixture within each installation has an exact location.

“We had to find a company or tool that could take the CAD drawings and convert the drawing into actual physical locations on the underpass,” Guyton said. “We contacted SANDIS who specializes in laser surveying and they performed it admirably.”

Another obstacle for the project were the conduits, Guyton said.

“The original plans showed two different methods,” he said. “One method was to run the electrical conduits in a straight line from “halo” to “halo”.  It was Dan’s request, if we could, to run the conduits in the different arcs as was drawn on the plans.  I searched and found a company that bends conduits and pipes.  In my discussion with Craig from Pipe Bending Cutting and Threading, he said aluminum conduit bends the easiest without any kinking.  They did a fantastic job.  I have never seen conduit bent like this on any project I’ve ever worked on nor seen.

lllGuyton added he thinks the conduits are the highlight of the art project, but that may be because he is an electrician.

“While working on site, we’ve had mixed reviews,” Guyton said.  “We had to close traffic lanes and this always upsets people.  We ignore the obscenities and the horns.  Some of the pedestrians make negative comments saying the money could be better spent on other things.  But none of these people have seen the final project, they only see the painted circles, the disruption of their lives and they don’t understand the entire project. We did have a lot of people that were truly interested and excited.  These are the people we are doing this project for.”

The installations were funded by a $600,000 grant from Our Place America and are part of a larger project called Illuminating Downtown.

CH Reynolds President Shelly Paiva said the company’s team was excited to work with the city of San Jose and Dan Corson to bring these amazing works of art to the city.

“We are known for being able to take unique projects to completion and this is one of those instances where our innovative thinking and can-do attitude was able to bring Dan Corson’s vision to life,” she said.

According to his website, Corson has a Master’s in art from the University of Washington and a B.A. in theatrical design from San Diego State University and his work is infused with drama, passion, layered meanings and often engages the public as co-creators within his environments.

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