Welcome to the San Ysidro border crossing – enjoy our light show!

Double Horizon documents an interactive light show at the US-Mexico border crossing at San Ysidro (near San Diego) that is triggered by the cars themselves. [Relax. It’s not you. There is no sound in this silent video. Also, your tax dollars at work.]

The architect explains:

Double Horizon is an interactive lighting installation at the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry. Located near San Diego, the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry is the busiest border crossing in the United States, currently processing an average of 50,000 northbound vehicles and 25,000 pedestrians per day.

Double Horizon is a 520’ long linear lighting installation along the leading edge of the primary inspection canopy. The permanent lighting installation is part of an ongoing expansion of the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, which includes a primary and secondary inspection canopy and new headquarters for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Double Horizon indexes the frequency of traffic flow through the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, through an illuminated b¬roadcast of real-time traffic data. The canopy edge is lit with a linear array of programmable LEDs that respond to the movement of vehicles. As vehicles pass over sensors embedded in the terminal lanes their crossing triggers a lighting effect along the edge of the canopy. Traffic flow is animated across the terminal through individual bursts of blue light that fade across the canopy’s length. Each burst is triggered by individual cars passing through the terminal lanes. Viewed from a distance, the canopy edge produces a second, animated, horizon line that mimics the horizon beyond.

The installation consists of a linear light fixture mounted to the leading edge of the terminal canopy, facing the northbound traffic lanes. Lighting elements are housed in an aluminum channel, which is seamlessly attached to the canopy at existing beam ends to provide a continuous line of light. The linear LED fixtures are controlled by custom software that constantly monitors traffic activity in the terminal lanes. Using a simple binary communication between sensors and main control computer, the installation creates lighting behavior patterns that correspond to real-time data inputs. As soon as a vehicle triggers a ground loop sensor, an instant response is animated on the canopy above. In order to realize complex lighting effects, the project utilizes Philips Color Kinetics LED Color Graze fixtures, data enablers, and a specialized computer with a custom software platform.
Location : San Diego, California
Program : Interactive Lighting Installation
Completion : 2014