Austin’s ‘Ghost Tree’ is a Symbol of Drought in the Lone Star State

GHOST TREE ON LADY BIRD LAKE (COURTESY THIRST)

GHOST TREE ON LADY BIRD LAKE (COURTESY THIRST)

Austin’s new temporary art installation, THIRST, is inspired by Texas’ ongoing periods of severe drought since 2011. According to studies conducted by Texas A&M Forest Services, over 300 million trees have succumbed to the state’s extremely dry conditions over the past three years. Located between the Pfluger Pedestrian Crossway and the Lamar Boulevard Bridge, a white-ghostly tree now hovers over Lady Bird Lake and is surrounded by a floating barrier.

Continue reading after the jump.

New Public Art in Brooklyn Lends Transportation a Sense of Play

East
Monday, October 28, 2013
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(Courtesy NYCDOT)

(Courtesy NYCDOT)

In Brooklyn, a new temporary public artwork brings the asphalt plane of 4th Avenue to a playful, three-dimensional life. On the avenue’s concrete median between 3rd and 4th streets, the New York City Department of Transportation’s Urban Art Program has chosen work by artist Emily Weiskopf for its latest public art installation.

Unparallel Way is a 120-feet-long sculpture comprised of two parallel aluminum strips in the same bright yellow as the double traffic lines guiding vehicles driving on adjacent roads. In a clever distortion of those painted stripes, Weiskopf’s parallel lines sweep from the ground at irregular heights, creating parabolic curves that rarely match.

Continue reading after the jump.

Los Angeles Mayor Announces “Great Streets” Program

City Terrain, West
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
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Rendering from My Figueroa, a proposed model of great streets in Los Angeles south of Downtown Los Angeles. (My Figueroa)

Rendering from My Figueroa, a proposed model of great streets in Los Angeles south of Downtown Los Angeles. (My Figueroa)

Last Thursday in his keynote address to the Transit Oriented Los Angeles conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the creation of the “Great Streets Initiative.”  In an executive directive—his first since taking office on June 30—Garcetti outlined a program that “will focus on developing streets that activate the public realm, provide economic revitalization, and support great neighborhoods.” Continue reading after the jump.

Fiber Dome Glows in Response to CO2 Levels in Saginaw, Michigan

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
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sol dome in Saginaw, Mich. (loop.ph)

sol dome in Saginaw, Mich. (loop.ph)

A web-like dome in Saginaw, Michigan changes colors to reflect the level of carbon dioxide in the air. Solar-powered LED lights connected to an onsite CO2 monitor illuminate the structure’s fibers in timed patterns to create the appearance of an organic response.

Continue reading after the jump.

Artists and City Government Collaborate for Urban Improvement in St. Paul

City Terrain, Midwest
Thursday, October 3, 2013
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(Courtesy Teresa Board / Flickr)

Skygate, by R. M. Fisher, in the public plaza in front of the Ecolab World Headquarters, was funded by Public Art St. Paul. (Courtesy Teresa Boardman / Flickr)

In St. Paul, Minnesota, public art is valued as more than just decoration. Susannah Schouweiler of Walker Magazine reported that the city has been proactive in the encouragement of artist-city government collaboration for nearly three decades, long before initiatives like ArtPlace became popular. City Artist in Residence positions exist on the government council, City Art Collaboratory puts artists in conversation with scientists to embed themselves in the “ecology” of the city, and art start-ups are encouraging business growth on “Central Corridor.” This cross-disciplinary relationship is only expanding in what Schouweiler calls St. Paul’s “quiet revolution in public art” and the city is reaping the benefits.

Continue Reading After the Jump

Painted Fire Hydrants on Display Throughout Chicago

Midwest
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
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the wintrust hydrant by anna celander (the Great Chicago Fire Hydrants)

the wintrust hydrant by anna celander (the Great Chicago Fire Hydrants)

Chicago area artists age 12 to 87 have painted larger-than-life fire hydrants for a public art project on display throughout the city until November 11. The project, called the Great Chicago Fire Hydrants, aims to decorate 101 five-foot-tall fire hydrants (one for each Chicago firehouse) before November 11, when a public auction of the hydrants will raise money to benefit the 100 Club of Chicago and “other fire-related charities.”

Find the hydrants on this map. Most are downtown, but Mt. Greenwood’s Funkie Fashions, Gordon Tech High School, and Swedish Covenant Hospital are among the neighborhood spots. Check out the website’s gallery of completed fire hydrants if you can’t hoof it to all the locations.

And if you’d like to decorate one, reach out here to the organizers here.

Flint Flat Lot’s Floating House draws criticism

Midwest
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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Photos of the built work were questioned by some commenters. (Gavin Smith, courtesy Two Islands)

Photos of the built work were questioned by some commenters. (Gavin Smith, courtesy Two Islands)

When London-based Two Islands took first place in Flint, Michigan’s first Flat Lot Competition for public art, images of their floating, mirror-clad meditation on the foreclosure crisis turned heads. Six months later the project has been built, but it faced challenges and has drawn criticism making the leap from rendering to reality.

Continue reading after the jump.

Flight Delays: “Lack of Sophistication” Delays Public Art LAX’s New Tom Bradley Terminal

Eavesdroplet, West
Friday, September 13, 2013
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Inside Fentress Architects' Tom Bradley terminal at LAX. (Jason A. Knowles)

Inside Fentress Architects’ Tom Bradley terminal at LAX. (Jason A. Knowles)

LAX finally opened its shiny new Tom Bradley terminal, designed by Fentress Architects, to quite a hullabaloo in July. The throngs who showed up for “Appreciation Days” got to enjoy shopping, music, and even free LAX keychains and knickknacks. But one of the most prominent elements was missing: the public art. Major pieces by Ball-Nogues, Pae White, and Mark Bradford were all delayed for what one participant called “a lack of sophistication on LAX’s part” in shepherding such work through. In other words, the officials didn’t get how to pull this kind of thing off. Well never fear, despite the bumps, contract disputes, and many miscues, the installations will begin opening in late September and continue through the end of the year. Better late than never.

Architecture Research Office Designs Public Art Display Panels for NYC’s Pedestrian Plazas

East
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
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ARO-NYCDOT-Public-Art-Sign-archpaper-03

NYCDOT Urban Art Program (James Ewing / Courtesy NYCDOT)

Streets occupy nearly a quarter of New York City’s land, however there are limited outdoor spaces to socialize, sit, and enjoy city life outside of parks. As part of an effort to improve the quality of public space for all New Yorkers, the NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) has been developing new public open space by converting underutilized street spaces into pedestrian plazas. With dozens of plazas already open and functioning across the city, the NYCDOT has been looking to polish the new spaces, installing permanent designs, improved benches, and now, specially designed signs to showcase public art.

Continue reading after the jump.

Inside Ball-Nogues Studio’s Canadian Vault

Fabrikator
Friday, August 2, 2013
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Brought to you with support from:
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Fabrikator

Ball-Nogues Studio engineered 930 reflective stainless steel spheres for a site-specific installation in Edmonton, Alberta. (Benjamin Ball)

Ball-Nogues Studio manipulated 930 reflective stainless steel spheres for a site-specific installation in Edmonton, Alberta. (Benjamin Ball)

In 2011, a major expansion to Edmonton, Alberta’s Quesnell Bridge generated an ongoing effort to enliven the landscape surrounding the overpass, which connects the northwest and southwest portions of Canada’s fifth largest city. A resultant public art commission from the Edmonton Arts Council for Los Angeles–based multidisciplinary design-build fabricators Ball-Nogues Studio called for an engaging installation along the south side of the North Saskatchewan River, which sees a live load of 120,000 vehicles each day.

While brainstorming the project, it was apparent to the firm’s principal and designer in charge Benjamin Ball that the areas immediately surrounding the bridge were not carefully considered by passengers. “It was a sort of no-man’s-land between the transportation infrastructure and the landscape,” he recently told AN. Drawing inspiration from the mundane—sand piles, gravel, and detritus from the trucking industry—and the majestic—talus and scree formations enveloping the base of surrounding cliffs—Ball and the studio’s cofounder Nogues applied their knowledge of sphere packing to echo the angle of repose of natural and man-made mounds. Read More

Reading nest roosts in front of Cleveland Public Library

Midwest, Newsletter
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
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(Mark A. Reigelman II)

(Mark A. Reigelman II)

If you drop by the Cleveland Public Library to get lost in a book, you may find reprieve from modern life outside the library’s walls, thanks to a giant reading nest custom designed by New York artist Mark Reigelman and LAND Studio. The installation is the fourth in a series, called “See Also,” which brings public art to the library’s Eastman Reading Garden. It will be in place through October 18. Read More

Flint Public Art Project’s Free City Fest Reclaims Razed Chevy Site

Midwest
Thursday, May 23, 2013
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Raphaele Shirley, Spinning Circle/Shooting Cloud, 2013. (RA Littlewolf and Whisper Willow)

Raphaele Shirley, Spinning Circle/Shooting Cloud, 2013. (RA Littlewolf and Whisper Willow)

The ongoing efforts of artists and designers to reignite the spark of downtown development in aging industrial cities face no simple task. But as architects and developers begin to put pencil to paper, the best public art projects draw on the spiritual side of that renewal.

Flint, Michigan’s inaugural Free City Festival, held May 3-5, did just that when it revived a mile-long stretch of now-razed Chevrolet plants with public art, transformational lighting displays and a reverberating gospel choir.

Continue reading after the jump.

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