Design for wall and bridge treatments integrated with construction for Charlotte Area Transit System LYNX Blue Line Extension project.
Media: Cast concrete, painted steel
Commissioned to design for wall and bridge treatments integrated with construction for the Charlotte Area Transit System LYNX Blue Line Extension project through the CATS Arts in Transit Program. Imagery is derived from indigenous plants of the Carolinas and fabricated from cast in place and precast concrete. Artist designed patterns for 300,000 sf of wall and bridges by using 17 different visual patterns and 3 different wall systems. The concrete walls are cast into form liners that are made from hand-carved prototypes.
Process: In 2013, I was the CATS Artist in Residence at the McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte. Over three months, I carved the full sized “calico” prototype and mapped out 300,000 square feet of wall designs. I spent time working with the BLE project team and interacting with the greater Charlotte community during studio visits and receptions. I created full scale prototypes for 17 designs, hand carved and milled with the help of Rhino Engineered Art of Cibolo, TX. The panels were then cast into a “master” by fabricators Scott System based out of Denver, CO and delivered to CATS for use by contractors building cast in place, pile panel and MSE walls. There are numerous collaborators who play key roles to make a project of this size and scope possible. These partners include: CATS Arts in Transit Program administrators who provide liaison between artist and engineers; the artist tasked with making designs for walls and bridges; the engineers who determine the sizes, shapes and types of walls; a CAD person who translates artist designs into a format that the engineers incorporate into the bid documents; and a contractor who builds the walls.
Rowan University, College of Engineering, Glassboro, NJ
In collaboration with Brad Kaspari Materials: Terrazzo, Aluminum, Aluminum plate Dimensions: 3,572 s.f.
The overall design stands as a holistic tribute to multiple engineering disciplines that are part of the College of Engineering. The floor is an expression of the different disciplines of engineering: chemical, structural, civil, mechanical, electrical, biological. As users pass through the main entrance of the building, they are immediately made aware that this building has a specific function in the educational experience. The work’s overall theme is the union of all engineering disciplines in basic concepts and the importance of engineering to daily life.
As you walk in the front door, you’ll notice the silver letters that spiral throughout the main floor, letters of the shorthand names of elements in the periodic table. The periodic table of elements references chemical engineering. Arrows that emulate a vector field reference many different engineering fields through their connection to force diagrams. These arrows also direct and suggest the movement of people through the commons areas.
The design of the floor also re-imagines the Rowan University Engineering banner. The “Fuller” Checkerboard references structural and civil engineering, re-drawn from Buckminster Fuller’s 1951 patent application. The alternating colors refer to the checkerboard pattern associated with the Rowan School Emblem. The sun on the Rowan banner becomes a gear at the center of the floor as well as the center of the periodic table near the hydrogen element. The owl is expressed by feathers that become vector arrows.
The colors of the floor are intended to coordinate with the chosen color palette for the surrounding interior finishes.
BASKET BRIDGE (2011) Palm Springs, CA, Bob Hope Overpass
Media: Stained cast-in-place concrete, galvanized mesh, patinated steel Dimensions: Basket: 7’-6” tall; Bridge: 294’ long Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
Enhancements to the Bob Hope Interchange on I-10 have made it into a landmark for the exit to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ nearby casino. In 2001, the Tribe contacted Braaksma to provide the art for the Interchange enhancements. After researching the Tribe’s heritage and arts, she presented ways to incorporate imagery of basket making and plant motifs into the construction elements of the roadway project. Braaksma worked closely with the Tribe to develop the bridge concept. When the Tribe received federal stimulus funds almost ten years after the project’s inception, the construction plans were finalized and the interchange constructed in 2011.The Cahuilla Indians’ history includes subsistence in their desert environment; the patterns in their woven baskets are considered to be part of the Tribe’s identity. Cahuilla basket patterns and plant motifs are used to make up special pieces of the bridge fencing. Fabricated from galvanized mesh and powder-coated steel, they speak to the Tribe both visually and culturally. The focus on baskets celebrates the Tribe’s traditions of craft and artistry as well as their emphasis on storytelling. The larger visual scope of the interaction of the bridge enhancements provides a work of art that the Cahuilla community can be proud of and take ownership over.
Public Art Network Year in Review 2011
Texas Tech University, Health Sciences Center (2017), Amarillo, Texas
Media: Epoxy Terrazzo with Brass, Zinc, & Aluminum Imbeds Texas Tech University System Public Art Collection
The mission of the Panhandle Clinical Simulation Center is directly linked to the human body and its physiology — therefore, the human body became the anchor point for the conceptual development of our proposal. In “Body Geography” we refer to flora and fauna found in the region, as well as, the nearby geographical terrain of Palo Duro Canyon— which has been reimagined as a surgical cut through the human torso. Shifts in scale and reference carry over into all the elements of the design in order to make formal and metaphorical connections between the structures of our bodies, the cells of plants and animals, the larger natural world, and the celestial sky above.
EN AVANT (2011) Hiawatha Maintenance Facility, Minneapolis, MN
In collaboration with Brad Kaspari.
Media: Recycled bridge deck, steel, cut and cast aluminum, formed copper, kinetic elements, ornamental grasses, and mixed flowering vines Dimensions: Concrete screen wall: 10’ (H) x 488’ (W); Trellis: 11’ (H) x 6’-8” (W) Commissioning Agency: City of Minneapolis Art in Public Places, Department of Public Works
The artists chose to work with an existing concrete screen wall that surrounds the maintenance facility; they stained the wall, built trellises from recycled bridge deck, and installed landscaping in front of the wall. Special inserts in the trellises include city vehicles above and collages below that reflect the activities behind the wall, thereby celebrating the people and jobs that make the city “work.” The use of materials for this project very clearly reflects changes in contemporary society and a movement toward an ecologically conscious public. Using remnants of recycled bridge deck that the City of Minneapolis salvaged from the Old Lowry Avenue Bridge demolition provides an innovative example of how public art can act as a model for creative uses of re-purposed materials. Because the materials are incorporated from artifacts from old city structures, the site of the artwork was infused with historical meaning and created a restructured landmark for the demolished bridge.
ROARING FORK DINING HALL
Roaring Fork Dining Hall (2015) UCCS, Colorado Springs, CO
Media: Terrazzo and metal embeds
Design of terrazzo floor for the Roaring Fork Dining Hall on the UCCS campus. Colors and patterns refer to the geologic timescale of the site, and aluminum water-jet cut embeds throughout the floor represent and have cultural significance in the history of the land.
TO MARKET, TO MARKET
Broadway Marketplace, Denver, Colorado (1994)
Media: Concrete Dimensions: 7 panels, each 6’ x 14’-6” Commissioning Agency: Homart Development and Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA)
Braaksma designed seven precast concrete wall panels, each 6′ high by 14.5′ long, to provide the corner identification for a commercial venture at Bannock Street and Alameda Avenue. The panels evoke the past mixed use and current commercial functions of the site. The images include fruits, vegetables, a pig’s head and a lobster in the della Robbia style, a visual reference to historic terra cotta once prevalent in the neighborhood. The text further refers to marketing and grocery shopping, crucial parts of the area’s past and present character. To Market received a 1995 ACI Special Recognition award for its artistic use of concrete.
THE PATH MOST TRAVELED
THE PATH MOST TRAVELED (1999) Scottsdale, AZ
Media: Stained concrete walls, steel railings Dimensions: Pedestrian Wall: 12’ x 500’; Agave Wall: 8’ x 8’ x 1-1/2” Commissioning Agency: Scottsdale Public Art Program
Braaksma teamed with architect Andrea Forman and landscape architect Jeffrey Engelmann to design images and textures on highway bridge piers and eight miles of concrete noise abatement walls and on/off ramps for Scottsdale’s Pima Outer loop highway infrastructure project. The site-specific imagery includes lizard shapes, lizard skin texture, desert plants, topographical references, Maricopa Indian patterns and rustication that emulates saguaro ribbing. The designs are directly incorporated into safety railings, wall treatments on the neighborhood sides of sound walls, and highway walls as tall as 40 feet. The team closely studied similar projects in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area to confirm that their work was unique but still within the same family of work. They especially chose colors that are rarely seen in highway work—desert tones of pink, lavender, and sage green colors give their work an engaging and surprising, but familiar, quality.
THE GREEN (2002) Charlotte, North Carolina
Media: Brick, stone, concrete (GFRC), and sandblasting Dimensions: 24’ diameter fountain plaza with 3-9’-6” x 9’-6” Commissioning Agency: Wachovia Bank in Charlotte, NC
To emphasize client focus on literacy, artist transformed park paving into a giant game board, laying out patterns in brick, stone, concrete, and sandblasting these materials to create hopscotch, riddles, and alphabet games. Park centerpiece is a 24’ diameter fountain plaza featuring three 9’6” x 9’6” spouting fish. Floor of the plaza contains aquatic quotes by James Joyce and Adam Lindsay Gordon. Encircling the fountain plaza, are wave benches of precast concrete that start close to the ground and ramp up to normal seat height of 16” –18”.
GREEN LIGHT, (2017) Cary, North Carolina
Media: Coated green steel
Dimensions: 100 linear feet of railing inserts
Commissioning Agency: Town of Cary Public Art
Railing developed on the concept of local plant life and native elements found in the park.
THE PRICKLY GREENWAY
Media: Stained concrete and masonry walls, glass block, concrete and masonry columns, pavers and bent steel railing with powder-coated cast aluminum ornaments Dimensions: Walls up to 11’ tall, 40,000 sf of wall space Commissioning Agency: Pima Department of Transportation
Two types of enhanced noise walls are provided: a cast-in-place concrete wall featuring a raised agave leaf pattern in shades of green with masonry columns and crested saguaro cactus capitals; and a concrete masonry unit block wall featuring two textures of sage green integral-colored blocks that simulate an agave leaf with glossy red tile tips and occasional glass blocks. The CMU wall also incorporates multiple sculpted masonry columns each representing a crested saguaro cactus form. The result is aesthetic variation along the corridor with views of naturalistic landscaping, artistic walls and other elements, varied topography, washes, and backgrounds of historic residences and mountains. Artistic railing with bead ornaments and median pavers contribute positively to the aesthetics of the corridor. The designs refer to Tucson’s surrounding ecological landscape.
SANANDO FLORES (2015) Ft. Collins, CO
Media: Powder coated aluminum with bronze embellishments
Commissioning Agency: Ft. Collins Art in Public Places
Through discussion with the Design Team, we determined that the Center necessitated a room divider with gates as a desirable enhancement for the Senior Center.
I first visited the Senior Center on a weekday when there was little activity in the backyard of the Center. After seeing the lovely back yard, I chose to bring the outside into the Senior Center through images of Colorado indigenous plants. Moreover, the images refer to healing plants of Colorado. The rendering of the plants and flowers is simplified and stylized to be reproducible in metal.
Flowers and plants included in this artwork include but are not limited to the following: Echinacea, apache-plume, jimsonweed, old-man’s-beard, dandelion and nightshade.
The room screen is constructed from water jet cut aluminum. The raw material surface has been finished with a tomato soup red powder coating. This color was chosen to coordinate with the new color palette of the Senior Center.
TREX (2006) Denver, Colorado
Media: Precast concrete panels Dimensions: 5′ x 10′ Commissioning Agency: RTD Denver and CDOT
Funds for the roadway art component of this huge transportation project were procured outside of Denver’s Public Art Program. As a member of the TREX urban design task force, Carolyn Braaksma collaborated to develop patterns and images for precast concrete retaining and noise abatement walls. The art is completely integrated on this 19-mile, multi-modal interstate highway and light rail transit expansion project. The imagery that includes tepees, regional birds, indigenous grasses and farm fields is based on the history, geography, and natural history along the I-25 Corridor. The swallows and magpies are familiar springtime urban birds in the Denver region, and the clever wall patterns of indigenous grasses recall the wallpaper designs of William Morris.
THE SKY OF HUMANKIND
THE SKY OF HUMANKIND (2005) Minnesota State University, Moorhead, MN
Media: Terrazzo with metal embeds Dimensions: 6,000 sq. ft. Commissioning Agency: Minnesota Percent for Art in Public Places, St. Paul, MN
Braaksma designed terrazzo floor for the Science Building main lobby and central hallways. The narrative for the floor includes mythological symbols of Draco, Cygnus, and Pisces, with the sun, planets, and stars for the cosmos. Cygnus represents all birds that migrate through Minnesota’s avian flyway, evolving through ribbons and paths that transform into microscopic biological and molecular features along the adjacent hallway.