Waterfront Vancouver will soon be bringing tens of thousands of people to the bank of the Columbia River. Imagine a light sculpture on Hayden Island that engages and entertains people on both sides of the river. That’s what this proposal is about.

Hayden Island’s northern 20 foot high river bank is filled with huge boulders and is not accessible by the public. But imagine a large scale interactive light sculpture near the water line. People on both sides of the river could interact with it. LED lights would be draped over a series of 12 foot poles.

The goal is encourage engagement and cooperation. It could be seen (and controlled) from both Washington and Oregon and bring a smile to people. Even provide useful information.


This light sculpture might include the following features:

1. Interactive. Using inexpensive light controllers, such as the $30 TP Link, people on either side of the river could control the lights using their own voice. Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Home control the lights.

2. Organic. These sculptures would only be visible at night. They would form images of common themes such as clouds, sun, the river, fish or birds.

The theme on the waterfront could be repeated in a land-based sculpture. It could provide proximity lighting in the pedestrian tunnel or shelter in the Jantzen Beach Mall.

3. Useful. The sculpture can be programmed to indicate weather (clouds or sun) as well as current conditions for fishing or traffic.

Hayden Island Benefits:
The light sculpture would barely be seen by Hayden Island residents, although they could view it when near the river bank edge. It could promote Hayden Island hotels and businesses but it’s primary benefit may be to encourage mutual self interest and cooperation between Washington and Oregon through engagement.

Wireless Option:
Hayden Island might also provide wireless communications on the riverfront. Regular WiFi doesn’t have the range, but the new 3.5 GHz band does. It is like WiFi (see: Gigabit Wireless). A splash page lets you view live video of Osprey nests, provide current fishing and traffic info or Jantzen Beach shopping center promotions.

Hardware for 3.5 GHz broadband will be available in 2018. Many smartphones will support it by 2019.

The waterproof LEDs could be draped over a series of 12 ft poles, near the waterline. It could extend some 50-100 feet, near the river’s edge. Alternately, a series of 4x4s could be laid along the 45 degree slant of the river bank. Each 4×4 would have a number of translucent “quills” (for the LEDs).

Some people will be vehemently opposed to the project. Finding a property or home owner willing to host the sculpture may be the least of the challenges. Approval by organizations like the Dept of State Lands, Corps of Engineers, Police and Fire, and others would be necessary. Funding would be another issue.

Other examples:

An interactive light sculpture along the river bank could appealing and mutually beneficial with the right concept and approach.


What do you think?

– Sam Churchill