Philadelphia artist Nancy Blum created the art portion of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (CCLRT) West Bank Station, titled “Immigration/Migration”, using stainless fabrics from GKD. The station is located in Minneapolis, MN.
"The design recognizes the area’s immigrant communities through patterns on architectural mesh and depicts the migratory bird thruway of the nearby Mississippi (River) by hanging soaring bird imagery cut out of stainless," Blum explained. "The two stairwell platforms are the location of the integrated artwork."
The architect, Aecom, and the artist selected GKD primarily for their ability to etch graphics on their metal fabric materials. GKD also engineered a system that allowed the screens to support the birds that were attached directly to them. The two Omega metal fabrics, 1510 and 1550, were also chosen for their solar management capabilities. The material has a transparent characteristic; no mechanical systems are required for ventilation, translating into energy and cost savings.
GKD media etching transfers graphic elements onto a hard metal surface through a mechanical process. Although the majority of the company's metal fabric materials can be etched on, the Omega series is preferred due to its flat front surface.
GKD’s solar engineer and designer Tom Bialk commented, “The etching process begins with graphics files that have been created in an AutoCAD program. These files are used to create masks, which are then transferred onto grids and applied to the metal fabric for etching. Almost any design can be etched using this process. The results are unique, with appearance changing as the viewing and lighting angles change, and as daylight yields to night.”
The graphics are etched directly to the surface of the mesh to make them weather resistant and durable. The vibrancy of the graphics is controlled by the duration of the blasting and the blasting media used. Bialk added, “Since the graphics are etched directly onto the metal surface, there is no danger of the graphics fading.”
The panels are etched prior to installation and require no additional specialized equipment for installation or maintenance. The fabricator of the metal birds was Fedtech of St. Paul, MN.
Photography by Katrina Hajagos.