‘Heart Squared’ 2020 Valentine Heart Unveiled

By Melina Wisecup

How can you find stillness and undivided attention in the dense, hyper-stimulated area of New York City? Especially in the heart of Times Square—one of the most lively places in the world.

The winners of this year’s 12th annual Times Square Valentine Heart competition asked themselves how they could create a piece of work that called on people passing by to enter a moment of stillness.

time square heart
‘Heart Squared’ 2020 Time Square Valentine Heart shown in Manhattan, N.Y. on Jan. 30, 2020. (Courtesy of Times Square Arts)

One of the designers, Eric Forman, said, “We wanted to find a way to bring that combination of the incredible kinetic overstimulation but also some slowness and attention together.”

The piece is made up of steel square boxes with mirrors inside to reflect images of the city and sky, so “Heart Squared” is its name. Another unique feature is that the outer steel structure is meant to depict an anatomic human heart.

There are 125 mirrors—the mirrors in the center are angled just perfectly to form the shape of a heart, while those on the outside are positioned to outline the heart with reflections of the sky.

Mirrors inside Heart Squared
Mirrors precisely angled inside 2020 Time Square Valentine Heart in Manhattan, N.Y., on Jan. 30, 2020. (Courtesy of Times Square Arts)

Contributing designer Phu Hoang says they chose to incorporate the sky into the piece to give the viewer a break from the city’s chaotic atmosphere.

“In the world with over 300,000 people coming every day, we wanted to find a bit of the sky. So a connection to the environment that is around us,” Hoang said.

Designers said they put a lot of intent and purpose into creating the heart so that it has a mysterious design. Their work paid off! Some viewers told NTD they had to work and engage with the piece to really figure out what it is.

A passerby, Hannah Moreno said, “We were standing behind it and we were like what is that? And we come around and look at the front and it’s really, it looks unique.”

After some time observing, people see that the reflections of themselves and those around them comprise the heart’s image.

Following a 12-year tradition, people from all around the world come to see the Times Square heart on Valentine’s day. Some will renew their wedding vows at the public ceremony in front of “Heart Squared,” and others may be surprised with a proposal.

Forman said, “One of the things that is most important to celebrate about love is that it’s the most universal value of all. Every person experiences and wants love and feels it with family, with friends, with loved ones.”