New Building Database Sculpture Prototype Unveiled at Hypersonic Studios

July 13, 2023
Database sculpture prototype

The School of Data Science is scheduled to move into its new home in April 2024 and will house a data art installation that will inspire all who enter the building. The unique database sculpture is a commissioned piece designed by SoSo Limited and built by Hypersonic. Last month, members of the School of Data Science and representatives from Hopkins Architects and University of Virginia architects and facilities management, visited Hypersonic in their Brooklyn, NY, studio to view a prototype unit of the database sculpture.    

"I was delighted to see the data sculpture taking shape," said Phil Bourne, Dean of the School of Data Science. "This represents a merger of art and science which is an important aspect of data science."

The database sculpture was commissioned by the School of Data Science to be their first installation in the new building. The original concept was to create a data art piece that captured the mission and vision of the School but that was also both accessible to the public and evergreen in its design.

Arlyn Burgess, associate dean of administration and chair of the building committee, explained why the School selected SoSo Limited for the installation piece. "They specialize in work that brings data to life and creates a connected journey for those that interact with their pieces. Their grasp of and enthusiasm for our culture, mission, and values excited us, and their installation will bring a new dimension to our building and our school."

SoSo was selected as the design firm for their award-winning creations that blend architecture, design, and software development into unique, one-of-a-kind installations. Founded in 2003 at MIT, SoSo imagines and builds connected digital experiences that allow every space to transcend its boundaries, with clients ranging from Google, Porsche, HBO, Baccarat, and Airbus, among others. They have a long-standing relationship with Hypersonic Studios who will build and install the School of Data Science database sculpture.  

After months of planning and design revisions, the School decided on a simple column of twenty casements that will display data flows through LED lights of binary numbers running the length of the sculpture. The piece will hang from a skylight at the epicenter of the building's core, seen from every angle of the central staircase and every floor. An interactive screen on the first floor a the base of the stairs will allow visitors to interface directly with the sculpture, selecting from pre-loaded datasets that visually tell unique stories of data science and society. 

"This visit was a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the feel and functionality of the piece," said Burgess. "The data sculpture is designed to interact with the architecture, light, and the data that drives its visual performance. Visiting Hypersonic's studio to see the prototype allowed realize how that vision will be brought to life."

The project has been a collaborative effort between the School of Data Science, SoSo Limited, Hopkins Architects, VMDO Architects, the University Architect's office, and UVA Facilities Management. Bourne remarked, "I was struck by the dedication and passion of the team in making our work truly stand out." 

Hypersonic Visit Slideshow



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