The melding of new and old media, print and digital, will soon play out on the facade of the headquarters of one of New York’s print publishing mainstays.
Hearst Tower, the Norman Foster-designed, glass skyscraper that sits atop the hollowed six-story Art Deco office building, will unveil its digital facelift on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.
The base structure, which was commissioned by William Randolph Hearst and designed by Joseph Urban in 1928, will feature wraparound LED screens shaped in the same sleek yet jagged triangular pattern as the skyscraper.
Called “HearstLive,” the installation will begin broadcasting programming from Hearst’s various newspaper and magazine properties and partners such as ESPN, Buzzfeed, Complex, A+E Networks and Vice. HearstLive will showcase live-streamed content, video, slideshows, animation and a social media feed, seven days a week from 6:30 a.m to 9 p.m.
“Ten years ago, Hearst Tower made history as the city’s first occupied green skyscraper,” said Hearst president and chief executive officer Steven Swartz. “As we approach this anniversary, we are proud to be the first to build an LED ‘sculpture’ merging news, information and entertainment.”
According to Hearst, the idea for HearstLive has been a year in the making. Last June, the company approached New York-based creative agency Code and Theory to help design the “digital canvas” for the project. The firm used digital signage software from Sedna and made use of 1,348 custom-designed modules for the installation, which is comprised of seven million LEDs.
The effect will be similar to that of the flashing signs in Times Square or the continual programming feed outside of many broadcast media buildings that stream the news. One major difference is that Hearst’s signage is generally bigger. To be exact, the installation, which wraps around the tower, is 54.6 feet long by 9.5 feet tall along Eighth Avenue, and via 57th Street, it is 52.11 feet long by 8.9 feet tall.
Content will be updated throughout the day and will not include advertising — at least there are no immediate plans for that.
“HearstLive presents an entirely new medium to deliver news, entertainment and information, and allows for an unprecedented level of updates and engagement with our brands,” said Hearst chief technology officer Phil Wiser.
Nancy Dubuc, president of A+E Networks, added that there is “something special, unique and unexpected about engaging with such great content on the street level.”
Stories will be curated by three news producers, said a Hearst spokesman, who pointed to opportunities to highlight sports programming via ESPN or to publicize content from the company’s magazine titles, including Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar.
Hearst declined to offer how much it had invested in the project, but added that inclusion in HearstLive is gratis for its media partners.