February 13, 2009

Gage/Clemenceau Architects Tap AutoCAD to Design Illuminated Metallic Heart for Times Square

San Rafael, Calif. - Designing a 3D heart sculpture, representative of America's love for Times Square, was no simple task. Yet, when New York firm Gage/Clemenceau Architects was presented with the opportunity, the company turned to Autodesk's AutoCAD design and documentation platform.
AutoCAD and Autodesk Maya software served as the 3D design platform to construct the 10-foot heart, weighing more than two tons and sheathed in highly reflective, molded, laser-cut metal sheeting. The metallic surface of the heart reflects the surrounding lights of Times Square, and is lit from inside with advanced, sustainable LED lighting.

"When designing the structure, it was absolutely crucial that we use the latest in design technology, as we carefully calibrated the design with a mix of materials and lighting effects," explains designer Mark Foster Gage at Gage/Clemenceau Architects. "The 3D design capabilities of AutoCAD and Autodesk Maya gave us the flexibility we needed, and AutoCAD's powerful documentation tools allowed us to automate some of the repetitive design aspects for the heart sculpture."

With AutoCAD, the designers were able to take their initial idea ­ -- an object that spreads light through both a traditional form and a mirror that reflects it­ -- from concept to reality. Essential to the construction was the ability to generate, view, and manipulate computer-generated 3D models of the sculpture, making it a seamless process for Gage/Clemenceau Architects to make material adjustments without having to physically maneuver the two-ton masterpiece. This method of digitally fabricating prototypes for an assembly before construction is revolutionizing design practices in architecture, engineering, and manufacturing firms, says a representative.

The "Valentine to Times Square" was commissioned by the Times Square Alliance as part of its public art program. The structure will be on display through Feb. 22 in Father Duffy Square (Broadway and 47th Street).

While the design masterpiece will only be on display for a short time, the high-tech, durable, and easily assembled sculpture was designed to be effortlessly recycled for future use in another venue.