Client: Arts & Science Council - Charlotte/Mecklenburg
Location: Cornelius, NC, United States
Completion date: 2022
Artwork budget: $280,000
Jill Anholt Studio
Janelle Drouet, Yuliya Salveyva, Elif Ayalp
Imagine Design & Production Services
Jan Peters and Peter Kauffman
Glasmalerei Peters Studio
Crop Rotations is an integrated public artwork designed to create a strong visual identity for a new recreation center in Mecklenburg County. The work references both the local environment and the building program, exploring the intersection of regional agriculture and farming patterns with the active nature of the recreation center itself. The work is composed of rows of dichroic glass fins that are “planted” into an existing silo structure housing the center’s water slide. These fins are activated by sunlight during the day and a choreographed LED lighting sequence at night, creating an intriguing dance of light and color that changes at every moment of the day, and varies depending upon the viewer’s perspective
The work is located on a highly visible metal silo structure reminiscent of grain silos found within the Mecklenburg County area. The silo was designed to house a waterslide for the recreation center, which the client wanted to veil from the public and prevent people from climbing. The goal for this project was to create an artwork that could interact with and activate the silo in an innovative way both during the day and at night, that was visually dynamic, captivating, and welcoming. Since the silo is a prominent feature visible from an adjacent busy road, another goal was for the artwork to become an iconic and dynamic landmark feature for all members of the surrounding community. The work was required to provide a compelling experience at many different scales, including from a distance as one drives by, or up close as one visits the recreation center at all different hours of the day. There was also a desire for the installation to be site-specific, speaking to the particular and unique conditions of the site and context of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
Our process for this project began through an in-depth research phase where we examined local histories, stories, and everyday life in Mecklenburg County. We were struck by the agricultural nature of this rural landscape, which was strongly referenced in the architecture of the new recreation center. Looking deeper into local crop types, cycles and patterns in the area inspired us to incorporate light, time and transformation into the artwork experience. Since the facility is used during the day and evening, one of our major challenges was to envision an artwork that could be engaging and exciting both during the day and at night. We decided to use dichroic glass, which dynamically reflects and transmits different colors of light as it interacts with sunlight and programmed LEDS in completely different ways. To test this out, we collaborated with our lighting designers at ARUP to create a series of experiments and mock-ups, including a 1:1 scale mock-up of part of the silo which we tested over a 24 hour period. Overall, this project was a highly collaborative effort with our lighting designers, the building designers, the client, and the public art manager to create a dynamic piece that seamlessly integrates with the base building which it activates continuously day and night.
During the day, the artwork traces the sun’s movements across the silo façade in an ever-changing pattern of shapes and color. At night, LEDs from below and above the artwork illuminate the dichroic glass fins with shifting colored light, creating an entirely different effect than during the day. Dynamic diagonal light shapes bounce off the fins in varying colors and hues to activate the silo structure in a choreography of lighting programming recalling forms and shapes of an agricultural growing season: planting, watering/blooming and harvesting. The dynamic lighting effects turn the artwork into a glowing beacon for both the building and community.