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Proposed Art Installation in Philadelphia's Dilworth Plaza

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Uploaded on Apr 29, 2011

Philadelphia's Center City District engaged in an extensive search for an artist to create an iconic artwork for the redesign of Dilworth Plaza, the 2.8 acre site adjacent to historic City Hall. American sculptor Janet Echelman was selected in March 2010.

Echelman's newest work continues her interest in making visible the existing environmental forces which cannot be seen by the human eye, yet innovates with a new material and subject matter. Functioning as a continuous X-ray of the city's circulatory system, Echelman's artwork will trace above ground the pathways of the three subway lines which run beneath Dilworth Plaza. The movement will occur in real time, using a data feed of train arrival and departure. The pathways will be drawn in 5-ft-tall curtains of atomized water illuminated by layers of colored light. This is Echelman's first artwork using this new methodology.

On October 19, 2010, Center City District announced that its application for federal funding to redesign and renovate Dilworth Plaza has been awarded a $15 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. These funds were awarded on a competitive basis for innovative projects that improve transportation facilities and systems and that promise significant economic and environmental benefits to an entire metropolitan area, a region or the nation.

In the grant application, Center City describes the Echelman art component as follows:

"One of the most innovative aspects of this project is our engagement of internationally recognized artist, Janet Echelman, to draw attention and customers to the transit network that converges beneath Dilworth Plaza. Echelman is known for reshaping urban space with fluid sculpture that responds to environmental forces. Working throughout the world, her work was featured at the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games and last year she completed a new civic icon for Phoenix that has been hailed for contributing to the revitalization of that city's downtown. Echelman's unique work will reflect the historic importance of the site's association with water and its relevance as a transportation engineering marvel... Echelman's work will make transit visible and memorable again. She will install beneath the surface of the plaza and fountain thin tubes that emit columns of mist tracing the course of the three major transit lines that run beneath the surface. By night, these will be illuminated with the same colors chosen by SEPTA to code their transit lines. As the trains move east, west, north and south beneath the site, columns of illuminated mist will criss-cross the plaza, forming a real-time and immersive three-dimensional graph of the movement of transit below. In cold weather months, lighting alone will trace the course of transit service below."

Animation courtesy of OLIN

See more at: www.echelman.com

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