The New York Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT) is the busiest in the world, with 7,200 buses arriving in midtown Manhattan every day. The PABT’s 1970s industrial steel façade has earned the building the dubious distinction of being nominated by VirtualTourist.com as one of the world’s 10 ugliest buildings. Now a facelift consisting of 6,000 square feet of metal mesh containing 1.325 million LED lights makes the PABT a colorful, ever-changing advertising surface and home to the world’s largest transparent media façade.
GKD-USA Inc., Cambridge, Md., manufactured the façade of Mediamesh®, a tensioned stainless steel mesh fabric with integrated LED profiles approximately two inches apart. Two sides of the PABT now feature simultaneous, separate or continuous messaging, effectively camouflaging the utilitarian steel girders without blocking air, light or the view from inside the structure. Mediamesh also stands up to varied weather conditions, coping with temperatures between -40 and 158 degrees Fahrenheit and hurricane-force winds. The PABT features retail shops, restaurants and a bowling alley, so with 200,000 people passing through the terminal each day, installation was a challenge. “We engineered a way to carry out the installation from the roof, day and night, so as not to disturb the traffic below and to ensure the building could stay fully functional,” says Mike Leonard, technical director of Mediamesh Systems for GKD-USA.