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Rendering of the winning Illuminated River project design. Photo: Leo Villareal and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands

Leo Villareal–Led Design Team Wins Competition to Light Up London’s Bridges

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced yesterday evening that a team led by US artist Leo Villareal has won the Illuminated River design competition for creating a public installation that will light up seventeen bridges along the Thames River in 2017. The team includes lead consultant Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, curator Future\Pace, Atelier Ten, Beckett Rankine, Bradley Hemmings, Core Five, Futurecity, Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, Montagu Evans, Pentagram, and Price & Myers.

“We saw an incredible response to this fascinating competition, showing that London continues to inspire creatives from around the globe, and is open to all,” Khan said. “There were some spectacular ideas, and I can’t wait to see the winning design light up the Thames. Huge congratulations to Leo Villareal and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands on this fantastic achievement.”

More than one hundred teams in twenty countries submitted proposals for the permanent light installation. The six short-listed concepts were exhibited at the Royal Festival Hall in November.

Known for his “Bay Lights” project, which lit the San Francisco Bay Bridge for two years, Villareal is a sculptor who has worked with light and computer code for more than a decade. His work is in the permanent collections of New York’s MoMA and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. He recently participated in the exhibition “The Light Show” (2013), organized by London’s Hayward Gallery. His celebrated light installation in San Francisco was so popular that it is being revived this year and will become a permanent addition to the Bay Area skyline.

Villareal said: “I’m delighted and humbled by the fact that the jury went with an artistically driven vision for the Illuminated River. The whole team shares a belief in the power of large-scale public culture and art to enrich our cities . . . Our aim is for a lighting master plan which reduces pollution and wasted energy, is sensitive to history and ecology, and subtly rebalances the ambient lighting on the river to provide a beautiful nighttime experience for residents and visitors.”

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