Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, NY

Breathing Lights

Artist: Adam Frelin / Architect: Barbara Nelson

Illuminating the Need for Community Revitalization

Through a collaborative effort, the cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy, NY transformed vacant buildings across the NY capital region into an art installation by placing pulsing light panels in the windows.

The goal of Breathing Lights was to spark conversation about the issues of vacancy and urban revitalization among residents and policymakers.

Artist Adam Frelin, architect Barbara Nelson, and more than 90 public and private sector partners, came together to bring the installation and a series of related public programming to life from September 30 – November 30, 2016. This consortium culminated the project in April 2017 with a regional summit on vacant homes and abandoned buildings for local residents, prospective buyers and investors, and policymakers.

"'Breathing Lights' helped stimulate discussion and transform public perception by literally shining a light on vacant and abandoned buildings in distressed neighborhoods. The Public Art Challenge opened the door to unprecedented collaboration and cooperation among our three cities, and allowed us to look at blight and revitalization through an entirely different lens.”

Mayor Kathy Sheehan (part of a collaborative team with Mayor Gary McCarthy and Mayor Patrick Madden)
Public Art Challenge winning cities, Albany, Schenectady and Troy, NY, give a behind the scenes look at their upcoming project, "Breathing Lights,” opening this fall.

Project Updates:

Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, NY

For two months last fall, Breathing Lights wove through New York’s Capital Region. Using gently pulsing lighting to humanize abandoned buildings, it was frequently perceived as a celebration, a sales pitch, or a call to action, but rarely as just art. The installation literally shed light on an awful problem—abandoned and collapsing buildings in poor […]