Submitted by Ray King


Client: Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority

Location: McLean, VA, United States

Completion date: 2014

Project Team


Ray King

Ray King Studio

Public Art Agent

Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority

Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority


SolarSails, 2014, Tysons 123 Metro Station, McLean, VA
Commissioned by Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority
26’ h x 50’ w x 3’6” d, Holographic Glass, Stainless Steel
Solar Sails’ triangular glass facets swell out from the station’s concrete wall in an elliptical “lens” formation. The facets are angled to catch light as it hits the wall from every direction, resulting in a dynamic play of luminous color and texture.


Solar Sails is a dynamic, light-responsive sculpture made of laminated holographic glass facets attached to a tectonic stainless steel structure affixed to the exterior concrete wall of the Tysons Central 123 station in McLean, VA. The light and colors of Solar Sails dynamically change to reflect the earth’s relationship with the sun.

The glass facets are angled (alternately to the east and west) to interact with sunlight, creating a stunning and ever-changing display of reflected and refracted color, patterns and shadows visible to the passing traffic as well as the pedestrian bridges and walkways adjacent to the station. The glass elements project from the wall in a curved fashion to create a “lens” -- bulging and swelling from the wall -- to capture and reflect light and color from various angles throughout the day.

The inspiration came from the concept of movement and flight. King’s work references the science of inventors and “Solar Sails” is influenced by one of the early flying inventions of Alexander Graham Bell and by the future of solar-powered space travel. “I think of this piece as a galactic “lens” that interacts to create color from the sun,” says King.


The selection process was a public competition. The large blank wall of the metro station cried out for artwork that would animate the structure.