Heart Beacon - CODAworx

Heart Beacon

Client: City of Portland

Location: Emergency Coordination Center, Portland, OR, United States

Completion date: 2013

Project Team


Joe O'Connell


Blessing Hancock


Creative Machines


Heart Beacon is an illuminated sculptures created to reflect the life-saving mission of the new Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) in Portland. The ECC serves as a coordination hub supporting response to regional emergencies and providing information to the public.


The sculpture is an interactive enclosure of light, color, and sound acting as a symbol of hope and resilience for the community. Similar to a lighthouse, the piece is intended to both comfort and warn. During the day, sunlight steams through the acrylic walls creating a diffuse glow of light and shadow. In the evening, color changing LEDs project rhythmic lighting displays across the interior walls. During an ‘activation’ ECC personnel can change the lighting in the sculpture to indicate an emergency transforming the artwork into a visual communication tool.


Heart Beacon was a collaboration between Joe O'Connell, Blessing Hancock and Creative Machines. The artists, working with Creative Machine, developed a unique heartbeat sensor, which senses and displays visitor’s heartbeats thereby using the piece to take the literal and metaphoric pulse of the community. Using a touch-activated sensor, people can use their pulse to create a thumping sound that resonates through the steel frame and flickers the lighting matching the pattern to their heartbeat. By measuring a small, internal element such as a heartbeat and amplifying it to a monumental scale the piece becomes a power reflection of individual life and reminder of what is worth saving.