A view of the Lynn Lights installation.
A view of the Lynn Lights installation. (Isaac Davila Photography)

HUBWeek recognizes impact of Lynn’s Beyond Walls

LYNN — The project that brightened up the city's downtown underpasses made an impact beyond the North Shore.

Lynn Lights, a Beyond Walls project displayed along the underpasses at Central Square, Washington Street, and Market Street, took home HUBWeek's Impactful Public Art Award on Monday night. In its initial nomination, HUBWeek — an innovative art showcase founded by The Boston Globe, Harvard University, MIT, and Massachusetts General Hospital — recognized the project for creating a "visually compelling field of dynamic and color-changing full spectrum lighting that not only delights the eye, but contributes to pedestrian safety."

"Almost all the groups nominated are Boston-based, since HUBWeek is a Boston-based organization," said Al Wilson, Beyond Walls founder and CEO. "We were the outlier of the group, bringing in something from outside of the Boston area. We were up against some pretty stiff competition."

After two years of planning, Lynn Lights was installed by spring 2018, Wilson said. The display took an immense amount of community support and work from a variety of dedicated project partners, especially electrical union IBEW Local 103.

The local electrical union installed the hardware over a 10-week period in the middle of the winter, said Wilson. Other critical project partners included Payette, LAM Partners, Philips Color Kinetics, Port Lighting Systems, Mass Development, EDIC, and Community Development.

"We were looking for an artistic way to address Washington Street, which was totally unlit, and the Market Street area, which is historically known as a high vehicle and pedestrian strike zone," said Wilson. "Any municipality would like it with just lights, but we took an artistic bent while still addressing safety needs."

Next up for Beyond Walls is the announcement of the gold and silver medal winners for the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, a national design award that recognizes transformative urban places distinguished by their economic and social contributions to America's cities. The Lynn non-profit is in the running for a silver medal slot, worth $10,000, or the gold medal slot, worth $50,000. Winners will be announced sometime in June.

"I think it's good in that it shows the power of partnership and teamwork but also community support," said Wilson. "They have all the various Boston-based art groups and entities doing tremendous work, yet a community-led project is the one that ends up winning. I think it's really a testament to the city and all the amazing people and groups here."

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