Photo: Courtesy of Aranda/Lasch + Marcelo Coelho with Formlabs/Image via Times Square Arts

In 2017, Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, invited the Design Trust for Public Space to curate the 10th annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition. 

The Design Trust invited seven architecture and design firms to submit proposals for a public art installation celebrating Love in Times Square in February. This visionary group of finalists included: Aranda\Lasch + Marcelo Coelho, Jaklitsch / Gardner Architects, office iii, Studio Cadena, StudioKCA, studioSUMO, and Taller KEN.

Window to the Heart by Aranda\Lasch + Marcelo Coelho was selected as the winning design. Window to the Heart will be unveiled on February 1 at 11am at Father Duffy Square, between 46th and 47th Streets. The installation will remain on view for the month of February, 2018.

In one of the world’s most Instagrammed places, filled with cameras of all shapes and sizes, Window to the Heart places the world’s largest lens in the center of Times Square. The 12 foot in diameter Fresnel lens was designed with 3D-printing manufacturer Formlabs to distort and capture the image of Times Square, optically bending light – and attention – to the heart-shaped window at its center. Visitors can look through the window or photograph themselves within it, completing the loop between the lens of the eye and the lens of the camera.

Rather than using the traditional lens-making methods of casting, cutting, and repeatedly polishing glass, Window to the Heart will leverage the latest advances in design, materials, and fabrication to craft something that was previously unattainable. Each lens segment is 3D-printed at a high resolution by Formlabs using clear resin, a material capable of the unique surface quality and clarity required by optical elements. With the lens made entirely from a 3D-printed material instead of glass, Window to the Heart upends the centuries-old methods of lens-making to invite individuals to reimagine how they see and photograph the world. The structural engineering of the piece has been provided by Laufs Engineering Design – LED.

Aranda\Lasch + Marcelo Coelho said, “Times Square is a symbol for how we experience our world. It is a physical manifestation of our culture, one dispersed and absorbed through cameras and screens. And in this culture, to fall in love you must first fall through a lens.”

Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, said “On the 10th anniversary of the Times Square Valentine Heart competition, what better place to host the world's largest lens than the Crossroads of the World – one of the most photographed places in the world and a hub for innovative technology and design.”

Previous winners of the Times Square Valentine Heart Design include: The Office for Creative Research (2017); Collective-LOK (2016); Stereotank (2015); Young Projects (2014); Situ Studio (2013); BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) (2012); Freecell (2011); Moorhead & Moorhead (2010); and Gage / Clemenceau Architects (2009).

Visitors can follow the conversation on social media using #WindowHeartTSq. More information about the project is available here.

Window to the Heart Selection Jury

  • Sean Anderson, Associate Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA
  • Susan Chin, Executive Director, Design Trust for Public Space
  • Emily Colasacco, Director of Urban Art / Summer Streets, DOT Art
  • Michelle Delk, Partner / Discipline Director, Snohetta
  • Jennifer Lantzas, Deputy Director of Public Art, NYC Parks
  • Mary Miss, Artist and Designer; Bradley Samuels, SITU Studio
  • Reina Shibata, Deputy Director, Percent for Art
  • Debra Simon, Director of Public Art, Times Square Alliance
  • Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance
  • Barbara Wilks, Founding Principal, Architect/Landscape Artchitect, W Architecture and Landscape Architecture
  • Bryan Young, Young Projects.

It’s remarkable how ArandaLasch + Marcelo Coelho’s 'Window to the Heart' responded to this year’s broad theme of 'Labor of Love' for the 2018 Valentine’s Heart competition. They created a rare optical experience that pushes the boundaries of technology, as well as draws on the hyper-stimulating atmosphere of Times Square. In a time when our love and empathy are tested every single day, we’ll now have a special window to share viewpoints and to see one another in a different light at the Crossroads of the World.

Susan Chin, FAIA, Hon. ASLA, Executive Director, Design Trust for Public Space