Three artist teams from metropolitan Detroit and Ann Arbor were selected to develop public art and light projects for the undersides of three viaducts located in Midtown Detroit’s TechTown district. Each artist team has been awarded a $75,000 budget to construct and install their projects this summer.
The Midtown Viaducts Public Art + Light Project is funded by the New Economy Initiative and theJohn S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The project is one of the recommended interventions stemming from the Tech Town District Plan which aims to improve safety, accessibility and place making efforts in the area. “A key component to the NEI’s work is about creating the types of places where ideas and innovation can flourish,” said NEI Executive Director David O. Egner. “The Midtown viaduct project not only celebrates Detroit’s natural creative muscle, but builds upon the momentum in a district that has the greatest potential to spur the ideas and companies of tomorrow. Place matters.”
“From low-tech to interactive light experiences, the work of these artist teams exemplifies experimentation and new ideas, further positioning TechTown as an innovation district,” says Susan Mosey, President of Midtown Detroit, Inc., the organization administering MIDVIA. The winners include:
bioLINIA | Principals: Becky Nix and Olek Zemplinski
Cass Avenue Viaduct
The Cass Avenue project, Reflector, will install over 7,500 reflectors and other lighting on the walls. bioLINIA approached the project as a means to capture and reflect the light from those who offer it up to the viaduct.Reflector will provides a gateway, an in-between, and a visually interactive experience as one moves through the viaduct.
r+d LAB | Principals: Cezanne Charles and John Marshall of rootoftwo, LLC, and Karl Daubmann of daub, LLC
Second Avenue Viaduct
Resonance consists of an array of LED light boxes mounted on the walls and ceiling of the Second Avenue viaduct. These 22 light boxes amplify the banding of light and dark in the viaduct, intensifying the visual forced perspective. These units will be located between each archway, enhancing the experience of passing through the viaduct.
New D Media Arts | Principals: Gabriel Hall and Daniel Land
Project: LIGHT BENDER
Third Avenue Viaduct
The Third Avenue viaduct will become an animated lighting installation that reacts to the motion of vehicles and lights the way of all pedestrians who enter. Through mobile devices, users can explore interactive imagery and bend waves of colored light along the pedestrian paths.
Through a competitive process, applications to the original RFP were reviewed by an independent panel of local artists and arts and design professionals. Panelists selected the projects based on artistic excellence, credentials, prior work experience, and capacity to complete the project. The panelists included:
+ Ashlee Arder, Cultural Strategist + Producer, Creative Many
+ Nina Bianchi, Partner, The Work Department
+ Annmarie Borucki, Special Projects Manager, Midtown Detroit, Inc.
+ David Carleton, Partner & Executive Producer, Mindfield
+ Michael Darga, Senior Project Manager, Giffels-Webster
+ Amy Green Deines, Associate Dean, College of Architecture and Design | Director, Detroit Center of Design and Technology | Associate Professor, Lawrence Technological University
+ Maureen Devine, Art Curator, Cobo Center
+ Tim Van Laar, Chair of the Fine Arts Department, College for Creative Studies
+ Stephen Zacks, Executive Director, Flint Public Art Project
The original RFP called for proposals to be considered for the Cass and Second Avenue viaducts and was seed-funded by the New Economy Initiative. The Third Avenue Viaduct was added as an additional site in fall 2014 with funding from Knight Foundation. “Midtown Detroit, Inc. is proud to expand the scale of this project to include three viaducts, and to pioneer a process with partnering railroads and the City of Detroit for how public art and light projects will be considered for other viaducts in the future,” stated Mosey.
“As the TechTown district continues to grow as a place for talented workers to live and work, it is important to build vibrancy in the area and add to its momentum for change,” said Katy Locker, Knight Foundation Program Director for Detroit. “These artists will help to improve neighborhood life, encouraging people to interact with their neighborhood and creating new opportunities for residents to connect.”
Midtown Viaducts partners include: the New Economy Initiative, Knight Foundation, Midtown Detroit, Inc., the City of Detroit, Consolidated Rail Corporation, and CN Rail. Other supporting partners include: Mindfield, Joseph Cazeno III of Creatively Prosperous, LLC, Anthony Reale, Richard Chase, and Gabriel Rice of Vincent Lighting Systems. Partners on the TechTown District plan include: the College for Creative Studies, the Henry Ford Health System, NextEnergy, TechTown, Wayne State University, Sasaki and Associates and U3 Ventures.