Draper - CODAworx


Client: Florida State University

Location: Tallahassee, FL, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $185,000

Project Team


Rob Ley

Urbana Studio


Florida State University


A 5-story sculpture within an atrium of a new Visual Arts Department building at Florida State University. This piece was formed by connecting and attaching stainless steel strips in a carefully articulated manner to create depth and variation along its 70’ total height. The piece passes through 5 separate floors and sub-departments of the school, offering each level a unique view of the piece. The tapestry-like sculpture offers each floor a distinct identity while serving as a unifying element within the school.


This piece is situated in a new addition to the Johnston Building, the oldest building on the FSU campus. The project's objectives required engaging a location and embracing a scale that might tie together otherwise disparate departments, arranged on separate floors. I was interested in creating a backdrop to the architect's design, incorporating a substantial atrium that visitors would experience first upon entrance. While the piece is static in nature, creating a variable experience for the viewer was important. Consequently, I chose to create a sculpture that when seen straight on, would first read as a series of perfectly parallel vertical lines. As visitors to the space continue into the atrium, and on to classrooms and offices, their position and viewing angle changes, as does their reading of the sculpture. Viewed from the side, the previously straight, parallel lines give way to multiple layers of curving, voluminous strips that spring out from the rear wall. In this way, the viewers' shifting position and vantage point to the sculpture encourages greater movement through the architectural space.


I was fortunate to be the selected artist for this project early on in the building design process. As such, the opportunity for engagement with the individuals who would be using the space (faculty and administrators) allowed me to better understand the mission of the school and departments which would be housed in the addition. This also afforded the opportunity to present my ideas as they developed with the project architects, which allowed me to coordinate logistical structural and material requirements into the space prior to construction. Lighting of the piece was also a consideration that was coordinated with the architects, and as a result, an integral lighting approach which is able to negotiate the variable lighting conditions of this naturally lit atrium space was adopted.