Craig Steely Light Wall

The owners of a 10th floor apartment in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood have what few others can boast: unobstructed views from the Presidio to Alcatraz—and a 40-foot-long light wall.

Picture 249
Picture 249

Earlier this year, architect Craig Steely (in collaboration with Peter Noble, Jonathan Foote, and Sierra Helvey) installed 1,440 two-inch-diameter LED lights behind a floor-to-ceiling wall of acid-etched glass in the City by the Bay weekend home of a Colorado couple. The inspiration came from the mood set by ‘70s space rock and ambient music pioneers like Cluster, Brian Eno, and Michael Rother, Steely says.

Convincing the couple that the wall would be a hit was easier than expected. “We came up with the idea, ran it by them, and surprisingly, they went for it,” Steely says. “I think the selling point came when we told them that anyone can have a Porsche Carrera for their midlife crisis, but how many people have a light wall?”

A computer hidden away in a nearby closet shows a variety of videos—ranging from sunlight sparkling on Lake Merritt to cows grazing in a field—that are slowed down and transmitted to the LED lights, each pixel corresponding to a single light. The acid-etched glass blows out any sharpness in the video, creating an ambient, slow moving wall of light.

Photos by Rien van Rijthoven

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