L Street NE Underpass: Lightweave

In June 2015, the NoMa Parks Foundation announced that Future Cities Lab was selected to create the design for the L Street NE underpass. (In early 2019, the firm changed its name to FUTUREFORMS.)

Design Rendering

Located in San Francisco, FUTUREFORMS is an award-winning interdisciplinary studio. Since 2005, founders Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno have collaborated on a range of projects exploring the intersections of art, design, and technology with public space. Recent projects have included fine-art objects, furniture and lighting fixtures, art pavilions and sculptural shade canopies, and large-scale urban art installations. The construction partner, M.C. Dean, is the nation’s premiere electrical design-build and systems integration firm for complex, mission-critical organizations.

Lighweave opened on April 9, 2019. The artwork comprises six spiraling lattices of stainless steel and bent LED tubing suspended above the underpass sidewalks, with three above each passageway, hung from freestanding armatures. LED colors change and movie in response to sound waves from within the underpass and vibrations from trains passing overhead. “The idea was to create something interactive, playful, and unique to the site,” says lead artist Johnson. “We were inspired by the idea of translating sounds from the site into sculptural forms.”

North Side

Southwest Side


Lightweave suffered damage in a fire in the L Street Underpass in 2020. The fire was unrelated to the installation, and a structural assessment of the piece determined that there is no danger of the piece collapsing. The NoMa Parks Foundation is working with the designer to repair Lightweave.