Pittsburgh’s ‘New’ Mood Ring Tower

The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has worn the moniker of the Steel City thanks in part to its heralded NFL team, the Steelers. But it also speaks to a combined influence of the dominance of the steel industry within the region that the city is located. For many travelers who get the chance to visit Pittsburgh, there are numerous sights that showcase this. One sight in particular, however, is doing so in a vivid new way.

The famed Gulf Tower, located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, will get to be part of a special art exhibit beginning halfway through this week thanks to artist Antoine Catala. The French born, New York City-based artist will be using the tower for the preliminary period before his exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art entitled Antoine Catala:Distant Feel.

The Gulf Tower Project is also part of a larger-scale exhibition brought about by the CMOA’s Hillman Photography Initiative called Orphaned Images. It will make use of the tower’s unique step-pyramid upper floors, each fitted with neon illumination in the late 1970’s. This architectural change was enacted in order to make the building one giant weather forecast center that utilized the colors of the Gulf corporation. The 44th through the 42nd floors displayed colors in accordance with the current temperature, the 41st floor covered precipitation while the 40th and 39th floors displayed colors for humidity and wind speed, respectively. Disabled except for the pinnacle beacon, the color lighting array wasn’t used until 2012, when local station KDKA retrofit the tower with an all new LED weather beacon.

Catala’s project will utilize the entire lighting system in accordance with Instagram postings from the entire region that are shared. Based on all of the submissions, there will be analysis on how positive or negative the mood of the users in their comments is overall. From there, the Gulf Tower will show either green light emanating from one side of the tower’s apex for positive comments, or red light from the other side in recording negative comments. The entire city has been asked to participate and join in the conversation at the CMOA’s website. The Gulf Tower Project will run from February 11th to the 13th, and Antoine Catala:Distant Feel will run at the Carnegie Museum of Art from February 14th to May 18th.