The Region's Biggest Chandelier? (Guess Where We Are.)
Crystal City owes its name to an elaborate chandelier that welcomed visitors and residents to the first building, Crystal House, in 1963. Over 50 years later, the neighborhood is paying tribute to that history with a high-tech LED light display.
Imaginex created a 10,800 LED light display at 2121 Crystal Dr, in the heart of Crystal City. The chandelier, which will be there for the next five years, is 25 feet wide and 19 feet in the air and rains down a symphony of lights to the beat of different songs chosen by visitors.
Imaginex, a young startup based in College Park, MD, developed software that allows LED displays to take just about any shape. Traditional LED displays like a Jumbotron at a sports stadium have been rectangular, flat and slightly limited in what they could do. “We’re able to take LEDs and put them in a 3D space and turn it into any shape or wrap it around any object,” says CEO Kevin Kirk.
The two-year-old company’s software is controlling the chandelier animation in Crystal City, the startup’s largest 3D pixel mapping to date, says Kevin (above). Donut housing in the middle of the display and a computer in the basement of a nearby building control the programming, which changes every day. The public can also download a touch tunes app to change the music and dancing lights for $1 per song. The best times to see the display are at night from 5pm to 10pm. Kevin says the duration of the project allows the company to experiment with different themes like an animation of hearts for Valentine’s Day.
The bulk of Imaginex’s business has been providing its software for visuals for live entertainment and music festivals. The company has also done corporate entertainment like launch parties and brand activating. Kevin says the company’s business has all been inbound and expects more of that in 2016.
The chandelier project was born from a relationship formed a few years ago between Imaginex and Vornado/Charles E. Smith, a real estate firm that owns several Crystal City buildings. Vornado DC president Mitchell Schear (above) says the chandelier celebrates changes going on in Crystal City.
Vornado has been working on building an ecosystem in Crystal City where startups can collaborate with large established companies, government contractors and agencies. This kind of activity is taking place through organizations that have laid down roots in Crystal City like 1776 and Eastern Foundry. Another piece of the strategy will be WeWork and its residential project, which will open in Crystal City next year, says Mitchell.
“The DC region becomes a natural epicenter for this activity,” he says. “We’ll see an acceleration of these kinds of partnerships in Crystal City in 2016.”