Beating Heart of a City

Here’s something to warm your heart through this cold January, now that the ball has dropped: In February, Times Square in New York will glow a little brighter once again with HeartBeat, an interactive, illuminated heart-shaped sculpture designed to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It will be unveiled in Father Duffy Square on February 9 and will be on view through March 8.

Conceived by Brooklyn-based Stereotank, the HeartBeat proposal was selected as the winner among several submitted by invited designers and firms—including Alibi Studio, The Bittertang Farm & James Lowder, Chat Travieso, Modu Architecture, SLO Architecture, and Taylor Miller—as part of the seventh annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition held by the Times Square Alliance in partnership with The Architectural League of New York.


Rendering by Stereotank of HeartLab in daylight.


Rendering by Stereotank of HeartLab at night.

HeartBeat will glow red to the rhythm of a low frequency heartbeat sound that will change in rate as visitors approach, move around, and engage with it by playing percussion instruments integrated into each side. The percussions will have different-sized membranes made of various materials—such as synthetic snare skin, animal hide, and hard plastic—which will produce a variety of drum timbres.

“What’s common between love and music? Love is about sharing and being ‘in tune’ with somebody and so is the creation of music—a concert is a combined action where the performers are also ‘in tune’ creating harmony. HeartBeat orchestrates Times Square’s unique, active, flickering atmosphere,” said the founders of Stereotank, Sara Valente and Marcelo Ertorteguy, in a statement.

Previous winners of the Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition include Young Projects (2014); Situ Studio (2013); BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) (2012); Freecell (2011); Moorhead & Moorhead (2010); and Gage / Clemenceau Architects (2009).


Young Project’s Match-Maker, the 2014 winner, on display in Dumbo, Brooklyn, following its stint in Times Square.


A couple poses in front of Gage / Clemenceau’s Valentine to Times Square, the 2009 winning design.


The heart was made with Corian and lit with color-changing LEDs.

Representatives of the Times Square Alliance and The Architectural League of New York served on the selection panel along with Barry Bergdoll, Meyer Shapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University; Yolande Daniels, Studio SUMO; Wendy Feuer, Director of Urban Design & Art, Department of Transportation, City of New York; Jennifer Lantzas, Public Art Coordinator, Department of Parks, City of New York; Wendy Evans Joseph, Cooper Joseph Studio; Granger Moorhead, Moorhead & Moorhead; Bradley Samuels, SITU Studio; and Reina Shibata, Deputy Director of Percent for Art, City of New York.

“The combination of an interactive heart beat that increases with approach and the music making capacities is very interesting,” stated Bergdoll. “It is an impressive object to occupy this space of cacophony, with sufficient red mass to be enjoyed even by wheeled passersby.”

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