Centro Chroma Tower
 – Shining a New Light on Public Transportation

By on Thu, April 28, 2016

Photo by Josh Huskin

PlazaMap

ABOUT CENTRO CHROMA TOWER
Centro Chroma Tower features a computerized, color-changing, LED light system that illuminates the skyline. It is the centerpiece of VIA’s multi-million dollar transit center that opened in the fall of 2015.

The piece was commissioned by the architecture firms of Perkins Eastman and Ford Powell & Carson, who also designed VIA’s Centro Plaza, where the sculpture stands.
VIA’s commitment to the integration of art and architecture in the design of its facilities now includes the 85-foot light tower that is constructed of structural steel and perforated metal. It is topped by a circular, perforated pattern in the form a sphere. The LED lights can be programmed in concert with the transit center’s column lanterns to create a rhythm of light across Centro Plaza.

The tower features an interactive panel at its base, which allows visitors to orchestrate the changing lights.
Centro Chroma Tower is dedicated to the people of the Greater San Antonio Region. VIA is proud to share the new community landmark—a beacon for all.

HOW IT WORKS
Artist Bill FitzGibbons incorporated an interactive element to Centro Chroma Tower, allowing visitors to orchestrate an array of LED lights by simply touching and running their hands along two specialized LED walls at the base of the tower. FitzGibbons imagined that visitors to Centro Plaza, particularly families and children, would enjoy conducting the light show that could be viewed for miles. See how it works!

ABOUT THE ARTIST – BILL FITZGIBBONS

Bill Fitzgibbons copy
Photo by Courtesy Photo

“Centro Chroma Tower is a very important public artwork for me because of its visual presence and impact on VIA Villa. Chroma Tower’s place-making presence is in fact a wayfinding device for the transit center.”Bill FitzGibbons

Bill FitzGibbons was a student at the University of Tennessee, majoring in painting when he began to experiment with bright colors. Fascination with a bold pallet quickly evolved into works that incorporated light and is evident in his latest piece, the Chroma Tower that illuminates Centro Plaza at VIA Villa on the West end of Downtown San Antonio.

“I’ve been working with light for more than 30 years,” FitzGibbons said. “When I was in undergraduate school, I started putting strips of neon on my paintings. That quickly morphed into doing three-dimensional pieces with neon and then light and I’ve never looked back.”

Centro Chroma Tower is the centerpiece of VIA’s multimillion dollar transit center that opened in the fall of 2015. Commissioned by the architecture firms of Perkins Eastman and Ford Powell & Carson, FitzGibbons wanted to create a piece that would be visible from various vantage points.

“Centro Chroma Tower is a very important public artwork for me because of it’s a visual presence and impact on VIA Villa,” FitzGibbons said. “Chroma Tower’s place-making presence is in fact a wayfinding device for the transit center. Not only did I want Centro Chroma Tower to be seen from I-10 and downtown San Antonio, but also for it to have an interactive component for bus riders and other pedestrians. This concept is realized by the two interactive LED walls at the base of the Tower.”

FitzGibbons is one of the first artists to incorporate computerized light systems into large-scale, public art projects. The artist provokes the elevation of space into an engaging, human experience, all while reducing the environmental impact of his projects through the use of energy-saving LED lights. He has completed more than 35 public art projects in seven countries including Iceland, Germany, Finland, England and Sweden.

A San Antonio resident for nearly 30 years, Fitzgibbons has served on the Board of Directors of the International Sculpture Center, and is the founding board member of the statewide Texas Sculpture Group. He has had 16 solo exhibitions throughout his career and he has been in more than 60 group exhibits – the most recent at the National Academy of Art in New Delhi. His most recent museum exhibit, “Passages,” was installed in 2014 at the International Museum of Art and Science in McAllen, Texas, and included a performance titled “Right Side/Wrong Side” that incorporated dancers from Mexico and Texas. A subsequent performance was held at the Lawndale Art Center in Houston in 2015.

FitzGibbons has received multiple awards and recognitions for his community improvement through public art. His light sculptures have consistently received international accolades, and recently he received the CodaAward in the Best Public Art Project – Transportation Category, for “Light Rails” (Birmingham, 2013). The CodaAwards recognize artists who have achieved innovation and successful integration within an installation site.

His “Day Star Archway” (San Antonio, 1999), created a unique entryway into the San Antonio International Airport, which “Art in America” magazine recognized as an Outstanding Public Art Project, and in 2012, the Texas State Legislature recognized FitzGibbons as the Texas State Artist in 3D Sculpture for his contributions to the local community.

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