Monday, June 13, 2011

More Photos: Dick Wray Panels

Couldn't resist showing more photos from Charles Masterson's shop of the laser cut aluminum panels for Dick Wray's tower at the Houston Permitting Center. They are beautiful now. Just wait until they've been powder coated black and then installed against a corrugated aluminum siding already on the elevator tower. His work will be spectacular.
The men working on these panels were very suitably proud of what they are doing to make this project happen. And what a mix of work in this shop. Check out the elaborate stair railing to the right in the photo above. Takes all kinds.

Random Photos and Commentary

Last week, I caught a glimpse of Agnes Welsh Eyster's etched metal panel for the lobby reception center. It's been covered with corrugated boards for weeks and was recovered the same day I got to take a look at it. Were they installing counter tops? In any case, her work is a lovely introduction to the processes that on in the facility. That 'meet and greet' desk, as it's called, will be a hub of activity.Here's an image of J B White and Carlos Macias in the lobby, both on their cell phones, keeping up with their schedules. Taken ten days out from move-in.
Some days I obviously get very tired. This was one of those days. Think it was the afternoon when Serena and her crew were installing, the day that three sign language walls were installed, the day that I met Robynn Saunders after 5:00 to talk about tiny hand painted text interventions. On another afternoon, I took an almost-nap on a bench in the lobby. No photo of that.
Here's a photo of the central staircase panels. Can you imagine? They arrived just a week ago and they were all installed within three days.
Love this railing detail in the main lobby. Love the broom too.
Here's a cut out in the exterior elevator shaft where Dick Wray's piece will soon be installed. We had to have three squares cut from his artwork too, in order to accommodate water sources for the possibility of fire. There always seem to be used cups or aluminum cans in places like this. I haven't seen one designated trash container on the premises yet.
I seem to lug way too much heavy stuff to the building each day. Two cameras, up-to-the moment files on all the installations, an apple, my cell phone. This photo was taken up on level 4, when Jesse Sifuentes was installing one of his murals.
Remember back when? As far back as 15 months ago when level 3 or 4 looked like this? The space itself has a certain beauty, don't you think?

Sign Language in Plexi

While Serena was installing her work in the basement stairwell, I was on levels 2 and 3 with S.O. Creatives and their fabricator, installing three plexi sign language statements that, depending on your point of view, are absolutely true. Or will be a point of further conversation.
Kelly projected the images on each wall, so we got the right width between each sign. Then the statements were installed, one hand sign at a time.
Here's how the walls read in a language other than signing:

"Fewer problems down the road, if you solve the issues today." Even I can read the third 'sign,' a single hand signaling 'down'.
"Code spoken here with skill, nuance and great authority." We installed this statement on level 3, where Earl Greer's plan reviewers receive engineers, architects, designers and persons of interest. I like the word 'nuance.'
The third statement, "The code is a powerful tool for building a great city", was installed in Thursday's Final Review Conference Area on level 2.
I like all three of these statements on those stark white walls. They're colorful and spare and almost seem to dance or move as if in a breeze.

Dick Wray's Tower: Coming Soon

Visited Charles Masterson's shop yesterday to see the laser cut panels for Dick Wray's tower. I have to say that the panels look wonderful.
When we arrived, his team was adding the narrow metal insets between each section of each panel. That way, when the metal contracts and expands as weather conditions go from below freezing to over 100 degrees, you'll never see 'cracks' in the images. Thanks, JB, for the idea. It'll work really well.Here's a panel that's not yet been sanded so you can see the rough laser cut edges. Really seems to follow Dick's hand.
On Monday and Tuesday, all the panels will be powder coated. Black. So the cutouts will read as silhouettes. We anticipate that installation will begin this week. And what a sight this artwork will be.
It'll be so public you will spot it from the freeway circling downtown. So public that every person who enters the facility will see it. Dick's work will quite simply define this building. We planned it this way.

More On Blue Sky Below Ground Level

Serena Lin Bush and her crew worked really hard last Wednesday and Thursday on her installation of five monitors in the basement stairwell. Each monitor connects to one of three cameras on the roof of 1002 Washington Avenue. The cameras face three views to the north and continuously record Houston sky, sending images to those monitors at the bottom of the central staircase.
Crew and collaborators included Cory Lowe and Jody Cochran, both co-workers with Serena at Aniden Interactive. Cory and Jody contributed the requisite IT knowledge to make the artwork function as envisioned. Serena's father-in-law, John Bush, joined the group for installation.
The effect of sky at the bottom of a stairwell is quite wonderful. Wonderful because seeing sky in real time in the basement is unexpected. Wonderful because folks will have to ponder why the monitors were put in that specific location in the first place. Wonderful because the monitors never vary the viewpoint.
Is this art? Is this a part of the functioning of this new green building? After a first look, it's my hope that folks simply enjoy the skyscapes and see that by watching the monitors, they can follow weather changes and the time of day.
I hope that the folks who will charge up and down these stairs every day take time for a glance upward to see daylight and sky at the very top of the staircase.
Then, I hope they look all the way down to see the same sky displayed on monitors at the bottom of the staircase. Which, of course, is the point of it all. See more of Serena's work on her website.
Now, for more on the installation itself. After the monitors were set in place, Serena and her father-in-law went up on the roof to readjust the camera angles so no freeway or horizon will show in the images.
For a short time during the adjustment process, we got a portrait instead of the sky. Serena's piece opens itself up to so many more ideas.
After lunch, an unanticipated activity began to bear down on us. That would be the process of cleaning the central staircase. The staircase was already blocked off because of sections of wet concrete at the base of each floor.
Mid-afternoon, I began to hear more noise than usual and it just got closer and louder. Suddenly, we had two workmen on the stair steps right over the installation. One workman was very busy chipping away dirt from the concrete steps and the other was following with a shop vac. There is so much going on in this building right now. Move-ins begin June 17 and cleaning seems to go on continually.
However, with the workmen sweeping and blowing on the very steps under which Serena and crew were working, one had to laugh at the insanity. Neither tears or irritation would have done any good. Serena covered her monitors with the boxes in which they were packed and we hope for the best. I can see that these monitors may be vulnerable forever. Who knows when folks will accidentally drop pencils or cell phones down the stairwell? Or decide to throw coins as into a fountain. Who knows?
What I do know is that this building has one more terrific piece of civic art. Gives me goose bumps. How about you?