An iconic architectural feature of the Montreal skyline by day, the Jacques Cartier Bridge now shines with an innovative lighting signature that celebrates the unique engineering of its historic structure. Thanks to intelligent programming connected in real-time to Big Data and social media networks, this bridge is by most measures the most connected bridge in the world. It comes alive every night and changes constantly, in sync with Montreal’s seasons, weather, traffic, and social media activity.

A flagship project for the city’s 375th and Canada’s 150th anniversaries, the illumination of this steel colossus was a major challenge. This project unites the bridge with the city and its citizens by combining expertise in civil engineering and large-scale project management with the creative talent of Moment Factory and six local design firms.

Moment Factory is a Montreal-based, multimedia studio with a full range of production expertise. Its team combines specializations in video, lighting, architecture, sound, and special effects. Since its inception in 2001, Moment Factory has created more than 400 unique shows and destinations. Productions span the globe and include such clients as Los Angeles Airport, Microsoft, NFL, Sony, Toyota, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Madonna, and Royal Caribbean.

About the project

Lighting is directed to four areas of the bridge’s steel superstructure — piers, turrets, interior core or “heart,” and exterior façade or “skin.” A soft lighting is directed inward toward the heart of the structure, minimizing light loss and distractions to vehicles. A dynamic lighting of the exterior skin is directed outward toward the surrounding metropolis.

The art concept was created by Moment Factory in collaboration with six Montreal multimedia and lighting studios — Ambiances Design Productions, ATOMIC3, Éclairage Public/Ombrages, Lucion Média, Réalisations, and UDO Design. The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc. provided project management. Engineering work was done by a WSP-AECOM consortium. Pomerleau installed the lighting system that features lighting technology by Lumenpulse and Philips Lighting.

A combination of projectors and tube lighting illuminates the steel superstructure to reflect the activity of the city. Photo: The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI)

From sunset to sunrise

An iconic landmark by day, the bridge takes on a new life at night. As the sun sets, the bridge awakens, bringing light, movement, and data to the structure. During the course of the night, the bridge uses these features to tell the evolving story of Montreal and its ongoing rhythms. The following morning, as the day breaks, the bridge’s pulse fades into the sunlight, waiting for its next turn to shine.

The energy of Montreal is represented through a subtle play of light on the bridge’s exterior skin. For 52 minutes each hour, the bridge pulses with the city’s social conversations as tracked on Twitter in real-time. The intensity, speed, and density of these light fragments changes depending on how often Montreal-related hashtags are liked and shared. Viewers create a unique colored spark by sending a tweet directly to the bridge’s own dedicated hashtag, #illuminationMTL.

More than 250 participants from all professional backgrounds worked on the bridge’s lighting for more than two years. Photo: Moment Factory

On every hour, at night, eight-minute animations create a Big Data-driven show that visually translates Montreal’s activity and mood based on different types of daily data: the weather, traffic, news, major events, and more. This changing content makes the bridge a true barometer of Montreal life. With 53 data points in 11 categories collected every day in real time, the possibilities to mirror Montreal’s energy are infinite.

The bridge also changes hue with the seasons thanks to a 365-color calendar. Day after day, the bridge’s heart gradually changes from an energizing spring green to a radiant summer orange, a voluptuous fall red, and finally an icy winter blue. Like the forested mountain after which the city is named, the colors change gently with the seasons; the light subtly evokes the passage of time as an enduring artistic expression that reflects its surrounding ecosystem.

Additionally, sensors installed on the bridge track vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic, as well as wind speed, wind direction, and precipitation levels.

Watch a video about the bridge’s illumination at

The numbers

  • 87 years: The Jacques Cartier Bridge has been a Montreal icon for close to a century, a jewel of civic heritage, and a source of pride for Montrealers since its inauguration in 1930.
  • 600 meters long + 15,650 tonnes of steel.
  • 2 times larger than the Eiffel Tower, which is 300 meters in height and contains 7,300 tonnes of steel.
  • 250+ participants from all professional backgrounds worked on the bridge’s lighting for more than two years, including engineers, creatives, lighting designers, project managers, programers, rope access technicians, steelworkers, electricians, traffic officers, and more.
  • 10 years of operation and maintenance were secured in the illumination project budget.
  • 53 Big Data points classed into 11 categories are consolidated into each hourly show.
  • 500 light points, representing the most recent and most-liked Tweets, circulate simultaneously on the bridge’s skin.
  • 2,807 lights: A combination of projectors and tube lighting illuminates the steel superstructure to reflect the activity of the city.
  • 50,000 hours: Estimated minimum lifespan of the energy-efficient LED lighting technology.
  • 10.4 kilometers of cabling for data transfer and electrical power are needed to illuminate the bridge.
  • 10,000 mounting systems secure the lighting fixtures to the steel supports on the bridge (about five per light).

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