Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

The Most Beautiful Building Lights Up

At 8:45 Thursday night, a crowd gathered to see the most beautiful building in Raleigh have one side illuminated by thirteen hundred LEDs funded by Cree to create the most awe inspiring piece of public art to grace an urban area.

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Convention Center Facade

This is the side of the Convention Center as seen from Fayetteville St.

The Most Beautiful Building In Raleigh

Even in an incomplete state without the lighting, it is something truly fascinating. Currently without backlighting, colors still roll and move across the surface like the reflection of a bird flying over water. Once the illumination switch is flipped, Raleigh will have one of the most awe inspiring pieces of public art that is part of an urban landscape.

If you have not been keeping up with new developments in the area, this is the Shimmer Wall, an enormous piece of art on one side of the Convention Center covering an entire city block. It was designed and is being assembled by Clearscapes, an architectural and design firm located downtown.

“We wanted a wall that would be dynamic, that would move, that would shine,” said Thomas Sayre, principal with the Raleigh architectural firm Clearscapes.”So all afternoon, every afternoon, this surface gets bathed in light.”

The idea is to take thousands of steel strips, maybe more than a million, each about the size of a shirt pocket. Half would be buffed shiny, the others would be dull, dimpled metal. They would hang on rods along an entire side of the convention center, covering a city block.

When the wind blows, they would swing, creating a wavy, glimmering image, reflecting sunshine during the day, and letting light show between their cracks at night.

Sayre said the shimmery strips would be spaced to form a larger picture. Light and dark tiles would function like the ones and zeroes of binary code — a nod to the region’s tech sector.

“Part of our job is to think, ‘How can this be an interesting wall?’ ” Sayre said. “I hope when you go home and your kids say, ‘How was the convention, Mom?’ you can say, ‘There’s this really cool thing out front.’ ”

News & Obsever, 2005

To see convention center construction at various stages of progress, check out the façade in Janurary, the entire convention center (from a viewpoint now blocked by construction), and at a distance from the Boylan Avenue bridge (second photo).

Note: These images were taken the day before completion. Head over to New Raleigh to see images of it now that it is complete as well as a time lapse video of construction.


Discuss Raleigh

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    • Pam: So, now I’m thinking that the pool was on the top of the 3rd or 4th floor – the bottom floors have a...
    • LJG: Google Earth shows a black roof w/ lots of HVAC equipment there.
    • Pam: I am looking for some history on the Holiday Inn that describes the pool that was on the roof! I was there in...
    • Arjoon: Nicely written and properly explained article. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.
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