A dynamic light visualization of Pittsburgh’s three iconic rivers proposed to be installed at the Pittsburgh International Airport

My team and I designed and prototyped a generative animated piece for the PIT central atrium using PixLite controllers and addressable LEDs.

Fall 2018, 2 weeks

Spatial Design
Computational Design
‍3D Prototyping

Selena Zhen,
Shan Wang,
Hanyuan Zhang


The installation hangs from the ceiling of the central atrium and draws comparison between the multi-directional movement of people within the atrium to the converging flow of Pittsburgh's three iconic rivers. Upon entering the space, visitors can look up to a calming light animation that moves with them as they pass through. The gentle, dynamic nature of flowing water calms and levels the differing speeds of individual movement. For visitors to Pittsburgh, it will act as an introduction to a city’s nature or a beautiful reminder when leaving.

Final render of installation in central atrium of Pittsburgh International Airport


Because the central atrium is located past the airport's security checkpoint, I storyboarded to recall memories and feelings of movement while enroute through the space.

The central atrium is the convergence point for all visitors and workers entering, exiting and moving about the airside terminal of PIT. We drew comparisons between this movement of people to the flow of Pittsburgh's three iconic rivers.


01/ LED Animation
TouchDesigner animation (left) and final visualization across our 50 addressable LEDs (right)

We chose colors that were gentle to the eyes and harmonized with the atrium’s existing blue, white and red interior.

To mimic the irregularity of a river’s flow, we added moments of color change and motion to the animation’s slow and steady pace.

02/ Physical Form

We designed rows of thin individual housing for every strand of addressable LED. Spaced evenly across the ceiling, the changes in their individual curvatures accumulate to a static representation of shifting waves.

We found that the best location for our installation would be on the ceiling of the atrium between its two main trusses. The vertical alignment of our installation follows the orientation of the atrium’s steel decking.