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Santa Monica, California

Origami Intersections

Giant origami crease patterns engraved in Santa Monica intersections may even be visible from space.  

While they will never be folded into the beautiful origami sculptures the patterns suggest, the crease patterns found at four intersections in Santa Monica, California, offer something very unusual: They are so large, they may be the only origami patterns to be visible from space.

These giant origami crease patterns are the work of Robert Lang, an American mathematician, physicist, and one of the most well-regarded masters of origami in the world. In 1999, Lang was commissioned to create works of public art for the City of Santa Monica, and, working with Brailsford Studio, designed bronze origami sculptures based on animals one might find in the surrounding area: a tree frog, a sea urchin, a dragonfly, and a garibaldi. The sculptures were affixed to drinking fountains at four intersections, where 2nd Street and 4th Street cross Broadway and Santa Monica Boulevard.

In the middle of these intersections, giant representations of the crease patterns for each animal were installed. Colored concrete was poured in large squares and the patterns were carved into it and filled with contrasting grout to help them stand out. The light-colored concrete squares are visible in the middle of the intersections on Google Earth, and Lang believes that with a good enough camera the crease patterns in the intersections may be visible from space as well.

About a year after they were completed, the sea urchin and garibaldi fountain sculptures were replaced with a sea turtle and a flying fish, also designed by Lang, because the original sculptures featured sharp points right near where people put their faces to take a drink of water. The crease patterns in the intersections remained the same.