PXL Gallery - CODAworx

PXL Gallery

Submitted by Diamond Schmitt Architects

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Client

Location: Vaughan, ON, Canada

Completion date: 2021

Project Team

Architect

Mike Szabo, Liviu Budur

Diamond Schmitt

Developers

Paula Bustard

SmartCentres

Lighting Designer

Paul Boken, Alan McIntosh, Sahil Lotia

Mulvey & Banani Lighting

Art Integration Consultant

Brad Hindson

Studio F Minus

Consulting Digital Artist

Jim Campbell

Artist

Rafael Rozendaal

Artist

Rob King

Marcel Dion

Marcel Dion Lighting Design

Overview

Public art plays a critical role in the cultural life of any city. The PXL Gallery is a 10,000 square foot low resolution LED permanent art installation in the SmartVMC District, a 100-acre master-planned city centre in Vaughan. This modern art installation features rotating exhibits of curated moving artwork created by acclaimed digital artists.

The PXL Gallery adorns the façade of Transit City 3, one of SmartVMC’s residential towers. The PXL Gallery, comprised of 2,100 LED light fixtures, conceals a six-storey parking structure, incorporated with the podium of the residential tower. The team investigated LED technology, glass, frit patterns and input standards while conducting substantial testing on the infrastructure supporting the gallery.

Goals

The PXL Gallery started with an infrastructure issue, as the below grade of the site was reserved for the future extension of the TTC subway line, and parking needed to be provided above grade. This transformed into an urban design problem of how to animate the façade of a parking structure into a public space.

Diamond Schmitt started with an architectural solution of designing a façade articulated not with physical forms but with light and colour. With a consulting digital artist (Jim Campbell), lighting consultant (Mulvey & Banani Lighting), Art Integration Consultant (Studio F Minus), and the client (SmartCentres), the team designed a unique prototype for a digital public art gallery to bring creative expression to the south facing fourth wall enclosing the transit square. The light wall will have a rotating collection of animated low-resolution artworks.

The PXL Gallery is one of a kind and a beacon for the area, overlooking the on-site SmartVMC Bus Terminal and the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre TTC subway station. With excellent sightlines from the surrounding public realm, equal access for all, including commuters, residents, and visitors, the PXL Gallery is a bona fide light at the end of the tunnel.

Process

One of the biggest challenges was to determine the optimal relationship between the glass and the light source. To ensure legibility of each pool of light the balance between glass type and distance to light source was key. Both computer simulations and full-scale physical mock-ups were used to test combinations of different glass types, and the spacing and depth of the fixtures to ensure that there was not an overlay of hues from one pixel to the next.

The final distance between pixels was calculated to be 600mm or 23 inches approximately. This allowed for each pixel to display a colour without bleeding into the colour of any adjacent pixels. The pixel distance ultimately determines the quality and accuracy to which the digital art is represented. The more precise the pixel distance, the truer the translation of the artist’s work.
Translucency of glass was also considered to maximize the spread of colour from individual pixels and minimize any overlap. Hours of trial and error were required to define the appropriate glass translucency and pixel distance to ensure the 10,000 square foot LED canvas could correctly exhibit the work of any curated digital art piece.

Additional Information

Digital art has begun to gain global attention over the past decade, with unlimited opportunity for impact and practicality. The more technology evolves, the more digital art blossoms. This novel approach in making a large publicly accessible digital art gallery with a rotating collection is important not only for the medium of digital art but also to contribute to the variety of public art we have in our diverse cities.