New York City’s pulse beats at 100 stories above the ground

Jake Barton’s design studio Local Projects launches a new interactive story-telling experience at the top of the One World Trade Centre.

When visitors walk into the One World Observatory at One World Trade Centre they will almost certainly be blown away by the incredible view over New York City. But that’s not all that will stand out: two futuristic 14-foot rings made from LCD monitors stand enigmatically at either end of the room.

The screens form the installation City Pulse, designed and produced by interaction designer Jake Barton and his team at Local Projects – the media design studio behind the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and the National 11 September Memorial & Museum.

City Pulse is a dynamic story-telling platform installed on a pair of giant circular rings located on the building’s 100th floor. It presents a unique and specialised way to tell the diverse narratives of New York City. Each ring is made up of 10 LCD monitors with specially designed media content flowing seamlessly from one screen to another. History, culture and present-day lifestyles all get their moment in the spotlight, with over 100 different stories presented on the giant rings’ displays.

The custom software includes gesture control, which enables staff to actively manipulate and navigate visitors through the City Pulse experience using specific arm movements. Through a touch-responsive map with select NYC landmarks, live social media feeds, customised Top 10 lists, facts, events and headlines, visitors are exposed to the wealth of adventures New York City has to offer. Every detail has been considered – the staff mostly come from a presenter or storytelling background.

“We thought it was important for the experience to be personal,” say the designers at Local Projects, “and we built that into the experience. Ambassadors [as staff are known] choose destinations and stories of the audience’s choosing to explore, and use volunteers from the audience to activate City Pulse’s touchscreen navigational system.”

City Pulse was launched to the public at the end of May 2015 and will be open for two years.