A Spinning Kaleidoscope of Color Comes to a Grey FiDi Canyon

Lucas Morgan, 4, gets up close to one of the Prismatica prisms as he gives it a spin. The panels are laminated with a reflective film that changes color depending on the angle of view. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Mar. 23, 2019

They’re bright lights in the big city, but not where you’d expect to find them.

Along three contiguous plazas just south of Wall Street stands a temporary interactive installation called Prismatica. Twenty-five rotating prisms, over seven feet tall, are brightening up the visually cold public spaces and delighting those who stop to take a look, and give them a spin.

With each turn—and from every angle and distance—the prisms emit and reflect a different hue and intensity of light, giving a cheerier look to the hard corporate landscape mirrored in their glass panels.

“It’s kind of cool in the sense that, you have these two grey buildings and so you have a splash of color,” said Karina Khanna, 20, who was spinning prisms in the plaza between the towers of 32 Old Slip and 111 Wall Street. “It’s like seeing the city through rose-tinted glasses.”

Prismatica is in fullest glow as the Financial District canyon grows dark. For Maliha Habib, 23, from Queens, that meant extending her visit into the evening. “I think it would look better at night, actually” she said in the late afternoon, as she checked out a prism next to 77 Wall Street. “I’m going to eat and come back.”

The installation is sponsored by the Downtown Alliance, and during a low-key opening last Monday, executive director Jessica Lappin looked pleased as she watched Prismatica draw the bemused attention of passersby. “People are stopping, they’re engaging, they’re taking pictures, they’re pausing,” Lappin said, smiling. “It’s fun to be whimsical and enliven these privately owned public spaces. I think it’s definitely doing that.”

Created by RAW Design for Montreal's main entertainment district, Quartier des Spectacles, Prismatica will be on view until April 21.