Amidst the grime and spectacle of Times Square this week, a curious object appeared. Designed by Stereotank, a Brooklyn-based studio founded by two Venezuelan architects, the red extruded-plastic heart sculpture known as”HeartBeat” was the winner of the Times Square Valentine Heart competition, organized by The Architectural League and Times Square Arts.
The interactive sculpture is an “urban drum” festooned with percussive instruments, to be played by any of the 300,000 pedestrians who traverse Manhattan’s iconic central square each day. The heart emits a pulsating light, and visitors can alter the rhythm by interacting with the tumbadora, PVC pipe organ, xylophone, electronic pads and rock drum encased in the sculpture. Amid the din of cars, street hawkers, commuters and tourists bathed in the square’s famously bright lights, the designers intended HeartBeat’s music to mingle with the ”urban concert” around it.
“It is an impressive object to occupy this space of cacophony,” says Columbia University professor of art history and archaeology Barry Bergdoll, who was part of the judging committee.
Other proposals (PDF) this year imagined subtler interventions, including a mailbox kiosk for heartfelt missives, a ticker tape ribbon projecting messages, and a lyrical filigree sculpture offering a moment of stillness.
(Quartz reached out to the winning designers at Stereotank but did not hear back.)
Now in its seventh year, the competition has generated imaginative variations on the heart motif.
Nine couples will wed in front of the sculpture this Valentine’s day, despite a forecast calling for snow.