Reuben Margolin's Incredible Kinetic Sculpture at the Hilton Anatole


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Wired magazine spent two weeks filming celebrated kinetic artist Reuben Margolin as he installed a massive, "insanely complex engineering feat" of a sculpture called the Nebula. The enormous sculpture was built specifically for Dallas' newly revamped Atrium II of the Hilton Anatole hotel. (This video, which takes a minute to load so be patient, is a snippet of a longer Wired documentary that will be ready soon. )

The sculpture and the atrium will be unveiled Thursday, October 28.

At 90' x 50' the Nebula is bigger than all of his sculptures combined, says Margolin, who's been making kinetic wave sculptures for ten years. Margolin won a competition to create a kinetic piece for the new atrium almost two years ago, held by the Anatole's owner Harlan Crow.

"When I saw the soaring, monumental space, my heart literally jumped," says Margolin, who talked to me by phone from San Francisco where he lives. "At night, the space sparkles with the LED lights, and during the day it's full of sunlight. It made sense that this piece should sparkle."

But for months after winning the competition, Margolin was stumped as to how to make it do just that, and what materials would not only glisten, but last in the hot Texas sun. His Eureka moment came one morning while leaving his house, when a bicyclist pedaled by and the sun flashed brilliantly off its rear amber reflector from 100 feet away.

"I was, 'oh, wow, that's it,'" remembers Margolin, who ultimately used more than 14,400 amber CATEYE bicycle reflectors to create the Nebula's 4,800 three-sided crystals. A single motor overhead pulls on more than 10 miles of stainless steel cable to set the Nebula's wave in motion.

Margolin describes the Nebula as a "math intensive sculpture" that involved tons of trigonometry and the collaboration of a number of engineers and San Francisco-based fabrication company Gizmo Art Production.

Read more about Dallas' amazing hotel art scene in a story I'm working on for Modern Luxury magazine's December issue.