Float4, an award-winning multidisciplinary studio that integrates digital experiences in physical spaces, has designed, produced and integrated new content for four digital installations at New York’s One World Observatory. The multimedia experience, at the top of One World Trade Center, has been created to present a narrative voyage for visitors, through the past, present and future of lower Manhattan.
“This project is, at its core, a celebration of New York and New Yorkers, and we focused the narrative on lower Manhattan because of its fundamental role in New York City’s rich history,” says CEO Alexandre Simionescu. “As a narrative backdrop, the theme of travel is weaved throughout the four unique digital interventions: the Global Welcome Center, the Portal Wall, the Horizon Grid and the Reflection screen.”
A revamped visitor experience
The Global Welcome Center, which is powered by RealMotion technology, aims to create a sentiment of awe on arrival. The interactive data-driven visual installation, on a high resolution LED display, takes live data from the ticketing process to greet guests in their own language. The live data is also used to dictate the duration of the content, meeting the different levels of visitors. Thanks to the use of motion sensors, the real-time visuals are able to greet visitors as they get close.
“The Welcome Wall displays and celebrates the starting points of each visitor’s journey; it sets the tone,” said Simionescu. “It’s also customizable for VIP’s or special events, we can actually display customized messages that are triggered by a specific ticket being scanned.”
The Reflection Screen presents a bird’s eye view of the building on a faceted custom-built projection screen, using stylised 3D content. Meanwhile, the Horizon Grid shows an animated overview of the history of lower Manhattan through a digital mosaic featuring more than 140 LCD displays. This takes historical footage and combines it with 3D animations, motion graphics and a custom soundtrack to present a journey through time, with a series of events and locations that can be seen from the observatory.
Finally, the Portal Wall shows a contemporary view of the World Trade Center Plaza, also featuring some future developments such as 5 World Trade Center and the Perlman Center for the Arts.
In addition to this, Float4 was responsible for the redesign of digital signage for the box office and sales kiosks. The aim of this was to increase the conversion of VIP ticket packages and to notify guests of current visibility conditions when they reach the top.
As a result of the pandemic and the ensuing travel challenges, the majority of the project was conducted from remote locations:
“This project started at the onset of the pandemic and we had to adjust our creative approach swiftly, says Simionescu. “Doing creative reviews entirely in telepresence was a significant challenge, that’s why VR and game engines became immensely useful to perform the pre-visualizations we would have otherwise done in person.”
“With team members in multiple locations across Canada and the United States, we had to engineer a workflow that allowed collaboration on the terabyte-sized pieces of content”
Float4 is comprised of a multidisciplinary team including artists, thinkers, coders, designers, writers and collaborators. This team guides projects from an idea to the finished product for a tailored solution.
All images kind courtesy of One World Observatory