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Heart Squared by MODU and Eric Forman Studio

Installation commissioned by Times Square Art

Curated by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Heart Squared is a cloud of steel and mirrors that interacts with viewers. It is the winner of New York City’s 2020 Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition.

Heart Squared is shaped as an abstracted anatomical heart formed from a cubic steel lattice. It is made of thin steel rods and 98% air, encouraging the public to surround it and experience its infinite grid from all sides. Suspended within the open lattice, and tilted in various directions, over 120 mirrors reflect an interwoven grid of the urban landscape of people, buildings, and billboards.

The heart shape is revealed when viewers find a “sweet spot” from which a giant pixellated heart appears surrounded by a field of reflected sky. Even in one of the densest urban spaces in the world, day or night, it is possible to connect to nature. Heart Squared is always changing with its surrounding environment as it reflects anyone and everyone who engages with it.

“Heart Squared represents the collective heart of the city and as such, is an engaging civic statement about celebrating our differences and bringing people together in a fundamentally inclusive way.” — Rachely Rotem (MODU)

Design Description

Manhattan’s verticality has shaped the image of the city. This project emphasizes the importance of the horizontal Manhattan, the public floor of the city. Chaotic, crowded and noisy, it’s the part of New York that we have learned to cherish the most. Its greatest asset is the freedom to be ourselves amongst others who are different than us. We imagine Heart Squared as an amplifier of this togetherness.

We hope this work encourages people to share space with each other, to see each other in the work, and even to help each other find the sweet spot where the heart is revealed. The mirrors of Heart Squared transform the spectacle of Times Square into kaleidoscopic images of people, buildings, and brightly-lit billboards. Times Square is one of the most dynamic public spaces in the world, and this artwork celebrates its energetic environment. Yet the more viewers slow down as they move around the installation, the more they discover.

“Heart Squared is designed as a balancing act between structure and air, buildings and sky, people and city, and movement and slowness.” — Eric Forman (Eric Forman Studio)

Public Experience

Heart Squared always reflects more than any one viewer finding him or herself within it. It brings people together to discover the heart within — a heart that reflects anyone and everyone who engages with it. Strangers will share this experience together. Its colors and composition change as the sun rises and sets, as billboards illuminate and screens shift, and as thousands of people pass through the space. Viewers can interact spontaneously with one another through the mirrors or find their own experiences within the piece, celebrating their love of the city and the incredible diversity of people within it. As viewers move around the structure they will find in the front the “sweet spot”, and the hundreds of reflections suddenly coalesce, revealing a pixel heart of urban life surrounded by a field of mirrored sky.

“Heart Squared celebrates the essential New York— bringing together people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, orientations, and walks of life.” — Phu Hoang (MODU)

“We are using the magic of mirrors and light to remix the urban spectacle into something unexpected, to give people a new way to see the city — and each other.” — Eric Forman (Eric Forman Studio)

About the Competition

This marks the 12th anniversary of the Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition, an annual event where Times Square Arts invites architecture and design firms to submit proposals for a public art installation celebrating Love in Times Square in February. This year the competition was curated by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.


Design - MODU and Eric Forman Studio

Organizers - Times Square Alliance

Curator - Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Sponsors - The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts; The Ripple Foundation, Carrie Denning Jackson and Daniel Jackson; the National Endowment for the Arts; and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council

Fabrication - New Project

Structural Engineering - Silman (under Scott Hughes)

Photography - Frank Oudeman / OTTO

Videography - Ian Douglas for Times Square Arts 


Heart Squared is in Father Duffy Square on 7th Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets, and will remain on view through the month of February.

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