Large, interactive media display at Glendale City Center approved by arts commission


A new interactive, public art display may soon be headed to the city as a way to refresh and rebrand the Glendale City Center in the downtown area, following a recommendation for approval by the Glendale Arts and Culture Commission last week.

New York-based firm ESI Design will oversee construction of a “Chromophone,” which will be on the exterior of the plaza, located at 101 N. Brand Blvd., and will emulate a clock tower on the side of the high-rise building.

The large display will be able to be manipulated to create a variety of shapes and sounds based on the input by individuals on a separate, interactive console, which will be comprised of five pylons that each correspond to a musical instrument and will be built on top of two existing planters.

The art will have two modes that will be controlled via the console.

A “waterfall sequencer” will show a digital stream of lights that, once activated by a user, will display what will look like rocks that chime according to input. The second mode will be an “elemental sampler” that will show abstract shapes that will also change based on user input.

“[The sounds] are meant to be very pleasant sounding and are arranged on a pentatonic scale so that anybody who plays this instrument — from a professional musician to a 3-year-old kid — it will still sound pleasant no matter who’s interacting with it,” said Chris Neiderer, senior designer with ESI Design.

According to Neiderer, the shapes displayed during the elemental sampler display are meant to reflect different types of environments throughout Los Angeles County.

“Maybe the triangle is like a mountain shape, the swoop is like the Santa Ana winds or water flow like the surf,” he said.

When asked by commissioner Arlene Vidor about how disruptive the display may be, comparing it to LED billboards in Las Vegas, Neiderer said the Chromophone will be constructed as if it’s a piece of architecture unique to the plaza. He added that it is not designed as an advertising space.

As part of the proposal, other parts of the plaza will also get a refresh, including portions of the building’s facade, along with new outdoor tables and signage.

The art will be a privately funded, public art piece paid for by the property owners under Glendale’s Urban Art Program.

The Chromophone is expected to be completed by next fall if approved by Philip Lanzafame, Glendale’s director of community development.

Twitter: @JeffLanda