The observatory that sits atop New York’s tallest building, One World Trade Center, offers eager tourists the best views of New York City. It’s a 360-degree panorama with a vantage point of 45 miles. But how do you learn more about what you’re seeing without blocking the view?
The answer is CityPulse, a 14-foot ring of LCD screens developed by the design studio Local Projects, built so that guide can simply point at it to pull up information on history, food, architecture, and other topics. The ring is also meant to keep the view as unobstructed as possible while amplifying the performance of a tour guide who is there to answer any questions that visitors might have.
I stepped inside CityPulse myself, donning the requisite motion control hardware, to wave and windmill my arm in choreography with the screens. There’s a bit of a learning curve. But once you know what you’re doing, standing inside feels like you’re literally framed by a stage. Even in the age of ubiquitous touchscreen phones, CityPulse manages to feel like an architectural magic trick that responds to sheer will.