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Krzysztof Wodiczko
Robert W. Healy Public Safety Building

RWH Safety Facility - green light flashing - medical response

RWH Safety Facilty red lights = fire response

RWH Safety Facilty - blue light flashing - police response


The Cambridge Police Department relocated to its new home in the state-of-the-art Robert W. Healy Public Safety Facility at 125 Sixth Street on Monday, December 8, 2008.  Artist Krzysztof Wodiczko created a work of public art for the Robert W. Healy Public Safety Facility that illuminates the façade of the building with a dynamic lighting system.  Using LED lamps and making new use of the twelve existing light fixtures on the front of the building, the artist selected different colors of light and display patterns in order to symbolize and express the continuing responsiveness of the Cambridge Police Department and the Emergency Communications Center to the life of Cambridge citizens. 

It is the City's responsibility to be alert at all times to emergency calls and to provide continuing activities that ensure the safety of the City.  The "real time" responsiveness of Wodiczko's Illumination Project expresses the Public Safety Facility's synchronicity with the pulse of the City, with its disruptive moments of emergencies, and with its peaceful protected pace of life.

The light fixtures on the front of the building facing Sixth Street are the focus of Wodiczko's responsive illumination system.  The twenty-four fixtures on the two sides of the building facing Bent and Rogers Streets are illuminated by steady blue light.

The basic visual effect of the responsive illumination system is a continuing, softly pulsing blue color.  This default position of the system symbolizes the constant attention of the Cambridge Police Department and Emergency Communications Center to its civic mission of public safety.  In addition to responding to emergency calls, the Police Department engages in self-generated activities such as patrolling, community events, neighborhood walks, and public assistance.

The continuing, softly pulsing illumination of the facade may be interrupted at any time by the sudden flashes of a colored light, activated by the Emergency Communications Center's response to all "911" emergency calls from the dispatch room.  These flashing rhythms are coded by color and speed according to type of emergency at higher or lower levels of priority:

Blue light flashing = Police response
Red light flashing = Fire response
Green light flashing = Medical response
Slower rhythm of flashes = lower priority emergencies
Faster rhythm of flashes = higher priority emergencies
Multiple responses to different types of emergencies may be displayed consecutively. 

Krzysztof Wodiczko's illumination system is active twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week, appropriately indicating the vital and ready responsiveness of the Robert W. Healy Public Safety Facility around the clock without interruption. 

Lighting equipment, programming, and installation has been provided by Barbizon Lighting Company in collaboration with the artist and the Emergency Communications Center.

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WHDH Channel 7 coverage 5/18/2010

Learn more and get directions to the Robert W. Healy Safety Building.