A 3D printed sculpture at the heart of Times Square

Window to the Heart is a 12-foot diameter 3D-printed sculpture, and the world’s largest Fresnel lens. Created for the 10th Anniversary of Times Square Valentine Heart Competition, this lens warps the image of Times Square, bending light and attention towards its center. Located at the very center is a heart-shaped window: an opening for people to look through and to be photographed within.

Walk around Times Square at any moment and you will notice that everyone has their camera out, photographing themselves in light of the media around them. In this sense, Times Square is a symbol for how we experience our world. It is a physical manifestation of our culture, one dispersed and absorbed through cameras and screens. And in this culture, to fall in love you must first fall through a lens.

Lens making has traditionally been a craft of tedious labor and precision, requiring a series of steps in the casting, cutting and repeatedly polishing of glass. Following from this tradition, Window to the Heart leverages the latest advances in design, materials, and fabrication to craft something that was previously unattainable.

Based on the geometry of a Fresnel-type lens, Window to the Heart is segmented into 98 concentric rings that allows us to attain a flat form-factor while retaining the optical effect of a lens with large spherical curvature. Rings are divided into over 1000 lens segments, which are individually 3D-printed at a high resolution by Formlabs using a clear resin, capable of the resolution and clarity required by optical elements.  With the lens made entirely from a 3D-printed material instead of glass, Window to the Heart upends the centuries-old methods of lens-making to invite individuals to reimagine how they see and photograph the world.

The lens is the unspoken hero of our media culture – behind every image is the lens that captured it. By making a very large lens, Window to Heart seeks to remind people that in the process of capturing life with their camera, they are in fact seeing reality distorted through a lens. They're capturing it, filtering it, sharing it, and in doing so are revealing the very mechanisms of seeing.

Design by Aranda\Lasch and Marcelo Coelho, with Formlabs
Structural engineering by Laufs Engineering Design – LED
Fabrication by Formlabs, Caliper Studio and D Edgar Inc