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Eighth Street Viaduct Light Art Installation Unveiled

March 24, 2022

GREATER DES MOINES, IA (March 24, 2022) – Downtown Des Moines (DSM) workers, residents and visitors can experience a new public art project called “Borealis,” a gently shifting light experience that will remind viewers of the Northern Lights. The light art installation is visible in the evenings at the Eighth Street Viaduct underneath the bridge at Eighth and Cherry Streets.

The installation adds a surprise-and-delight element to Downtown DSM. It helps advance Operation Downtown’s mission to keep Downtown safe, clean, welcoming and beautiful by adding public art to brighten the viaduct. The addition of this public art project will add light to a previously dark space and serve as an inviting area for people while exploring Downtown DSM. The installation of “Borealis” also aligns with the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Strategic Priority to enhance the vibrancy of Downtown DSM through major placemaking projects. Borealis in Downtown DSM

“Borealis” was created by Alex Braden, an installation artist and musician, who has successfully created light installations in other cities. He was selected after an application process that drew more than 30 national and local artists. Braden used advanced color-changing technology available to durable architectural lights to create the experience. The fixtures are weather-sealed and tamper-resistant, and fitted to the viaduct to transition between colors.

(Photo Credit: Alex Braidwood, Group Creatives)

“’Borealis’ uses the viaduct’s canopy to its advantage and lifts the darkness by adding a variety of dynamic, color-shifting lights,” Braden said. “I hope residents, employees and visitors find this to be a peaceful and poetic response to the architectural systems of the viaduct.”

“This installation provides a creative solution to brighten a dark public space, helping transform it into a space people will want to walk by as they participate in Downtown activities and support local businesses,” said Amy Lego, Executive Director of Operation Downtown. “This is a great example of the ability to use public art to enhance Downtown DSM’s vibrancy.”

The installation was made possible through support from Polk County, the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation and EMC Insurance Companies. Group Creatives and Baker Electric partnered on the project.

View the attached photo of "Borealis.”

About Operation Downtown

Created to help make Downtown Des Moines (DSM) a safer, cleaner place to work, live and visit, Operation Downtown is classified as a Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District (SSMID). Since day one, the mission has been to enhance the quality of life in Downtown DSM by keeping it safe, clean, welcoming and beautiful. Programs include trash cleanup, flower planting and visitor assistance. Operation Downtown, a 501(c)6, was formed in 1998 by business leaders to provide enhanced services that are not provided by the City of Des Moines. Today, the Greater Des Moines Partnership is a partner of Operation Downtown and helps keep DSM among the highest-rated, most vibrant regions in the country.

About Downtown, DSM, Inc.

Downtown DSM, Inc. is part of the Greater Des Moines Partnership and is dedicated to ensuring the continued growth of Downtown Des Moines (DSM). A strong region needs a strong Downtown. Downtown DSM, Inc. leads efforts to drive development, placemaking and events in Downtown DSM. It promotes a strong Downtown through integration of retail, restaurants, businesses, housing, events and placemaking.

About the Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 24 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 365 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.