Client: The Golden Triangle Business Improvement District

Location: Washington DC, DC, United States

Completion date: 2017

Project Team


Catherine Widgery

Industry Resource

John Grant

Public Art Services


LEADING LIGHTS is a colonnade where each of 34 columns has three panels of dichroic glass to create a triangular lantern mounted on steel poles. These dichroic glass surfaces reflect the surroundings through a veil of color. The colors are always shifting depending on the angle of the sun and the position of the viewer. When direct sunlight strikes the glass surface, brilliant colored bands are projected onto the ground and nearby surfaces. At night these columns become delicately colored lanterns as solar powered lights installed in the cap come on at dusk.


It is this ghostly, ‘there-not-there’ quality that speaks of the sophistication and elegance of the Golden Triangle area of Washington DC, where they are installed. As cars emerge from the underpass below, these columns embrace them as they rise up through the gateway. Visible from all the surrounding buildings and from all viewpoints, they create a cohesive place in what before was an ill-defined, non place. Each column is fixed at a rotation that is slightly different so different facets of the triangle are exposed in a slightly different way to the angles of light.

The Golden Triangle symbol expresses the open possibilities of this dynamic area, so it was to take this contemporary vision and apply it to columns and bring color, light and animation to this site. The visual language of the Golden Triangle District as well as the greater DC area is one of grand boulevards with rhythmic repeated verticals whether lines of trees along streets or architectural columns on facades of buildings inspired this concept for LEADING LIGHTS as we are re-imagining that traditional vocabulary in contemporary materials and form.