New high-tech sculpture will light Dudley Square

Preliminary designs for the Signal Spire sculpture that will be located outside the newly renovated Ferdinand Building.
Howeler + Yoon Architecture
Preliminary designs for the Signal Spire sculpture that will be located outside the newly renovated Ferdinand Building.

It will be called the Crisscross Signal Spire.

In the heart of Dudley Square, a Boston architecture firm is planning to build a 40-foot interactive sculpture designed to bring a burst of light and technology to the rapidly changing area.

Although still in the design stages, the sculpture by Howeler + Yoon Architecture is expected to include a series of lighted tubes that will connect to, and perhaps even display, real-time traffic movements, city information bulletins, and other computer data.


“We think of it as a marker, but we also want it to be a catalyst for the area,” said Eric Howeler, a principal of the firm along with artist Meejin Yoon. “We hope it will help people think about how we can use technology and social networks to open different kinds of economic opportunities.”

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The sculpture will be erected outside the new Dudley Municipal Center. The complex, which will house new administrative offices for the Boston School Department on Warren Street, is scheduled to be completed next spring.

The final design of the sculpture still needs approval from city regulators. Officials have so far encouraged the concept of the signal spire.

The Boston Art Commission is overseeing an effort to place several art installations in the Dudley Municipal Center, including an abstract enamel mural by renowned artist Napoleon Jones-Henderson, who lives in Roxbury, and a wall design by Clarita Stephens, a student at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester.

Karin Goodfellow, director of the art commission, said the signal spire will help shake up the city’s public art offerings, which tend to emphasize bronze busts of politicians and sports figures. Abstract pieces featuring computer-controlled lights and data will be something new.


“It’s a really exciting project that ties in technology and all these wonderful things happening in Boston that haven’t made their way into public art as much as we might like,” she said.

The sculpture takes physical cues from traditional structures, such as clock towers and flag poles.

It will emphasize more modern means of communication such as smartphone apps and real-time data sharing.

It is made from individual lighted tubes that are braided together to create the feeling of a single, interconnected form at the heart of the square.

The sculpture “acts as a vertical timeline telling the story of the city of Boston’s formation from three original towns to a city of 21 neighborhoods,” Howeler + Yoon wrote in a presentation submitted to the city.


“At the center of this bundling of Boston’s neighborhoods sits Roxbury, one of the original towns.”

After decades of struggle, Roxbury is experiencing an economic revitalization that the sculpture seeks to emphasize and encourage.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh has said he hopes to bring more medical and technology companies to add to Roxbury’s job base and mix of industries.

In addition to the Dudley Municipal Center, several other large-scale development projects are planned near Dudley Square.

Together, they are expected to result in construction of hundreds of new homes as well as hotels and several stores and restaurants.

Casey Ross can be reached at