Installation by Fay Jones School Faculty Included in 2023 Exhibit Columbus Exhibition in Indiana
"Ground Rules," an installation by Jessica Colangelo, assistant professor of architecture, and Charles Sharpless, assistant professor of interior architecture and design, is part of the 2023 Exhibit Columbus exhibition in Columbus, Indiana.
The construction of buildings often results in wasted materials. However, a new piece by two U of A professors has reclaimed those discarded elements and transformed them into something new.
"Ground Rules," an installation by Jessica Colangelo, assistant professor of architecture, and Charles Sharpless, assistant professor of interior architecture and design, is part of the 2023 Exhibit Columbus exhibition, Public by Design, in Columbus, Indiana. They both are faculty at the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the U of A.
Colangelo and Sharpless are among the seven 2022-23 University Design Research Fellows who participated in the biennial design exhibition. The pair also are co-founders of the architecture practice Somewhere Studio, based in Fayetteville.
In this fourth cycle of Exhibit Columbus, the curators themed the 2023 exhibition Public by Design, which "builds on the legacy of Columbus, Indiana, to explore how collaborations between communities and designers can revitalize and reimagine historic downtowns as equitable, beautiful, healthy and joyful places," according to the Exhibit Columbus website. University Design Research Fellows were asked to consider how installations could activate underutilized public spaces in Columbus' historic downtown center.
"We are really excited by the Exhibit Columbus program as an opportunity to have conversations between community members, designers and cultural institutions in Arkansas and Indiana about wood construction, civic identity and urban placemaking," Colangelo said.
"Ground Rules" floats an elevated playing court and seating at the entrance of the Cummins Corporate Office Building, designed by the internationally renowned architecture firm Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates in the mid-1980s. The project responds to the existing building and its systematic deployment across the site by inserting an architectural folly within the gridded structure that creates a spontaneous gathering space for office workers and downtown pedestrians alike.
By echoing the existing horizontality of the monolithic beams overhead, "Ground Rules" establishes its visual presence by striking a new horizontal space hovering just above the ground. In juxtaposition to the weighty permanence of the concrete structure, this new boardwalk is lightweight and temporary in its materiality, primarily constructed from discarded lumber salvaged from construction sites.
The project is designed in 7-foot-wide modules that can be disassembled, relocated and reconfigured after the exhibition. The project's boardwalk was initially fabricated on the lawn of Vol Walker Hall on the U of A campus over the summer by Sharpless, Colangelo and three U of A undergraduate students. After test-fitting all the major elements in Arkansas, the project was disassembled and transported to Columbus for the exhibition.
"Our project allows us to weave together important trajectories of our research related to wood construction, material re-use and public space activation," Sharpless said.
Material lifecycles related to building construction are a focus of Colangelo and Sharpless' research work at the Fay Jones School, and the "Ground Rules" installation provided an opportunity for them to reutilize the material byproducts of construction activities in a new built work. Numerous materials are essential during the process of constructing a new building that are often discarded during construction or left out of the end product or inhabitable building, they said. These facilitator materials include items such as bracing, formwork and offcuts. In "Ground Rules," the deck boards, bench seats, purple scallops and blue pickets are all sourced from reclaimed materials found on construction sites in Fayetteville.
Colangelo and Sharpless led the design and fabrication team. The fabrication team included Sarah Myane, Jordan Gerling and Darci Burris, all student research assistants. Support and volunteers included Fay Jones School staff members and students Corey Booth, Angie Carpenter, Justin Tucker, Randal Dickinson, Stockton Pyle, Hunter Craig, Jake Cocke, Connor Halferty, Ben Townsend, Tate Criner, Elliot Huss and Davis Davila. Additional volunteers helped on site in Columbus, Indiana.
Landmark Columbus Foundation and the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design provided funding for the "Ground Rules" project. Waste wood was donated by DaVinci Construction, Nabholz Construction, Pickit Construction, Structure Framing Co. and Ridout Lumber. Products were donated by Diode LED and BuildTuff USA.
Exhibit Columbus is a program of Landmark Columbus Foundation and an exploration of community, architecture, art and design that activates the modern legacy of Columbus, Indiana. The design biennial creates a cycle of programming that uses this context to convene conversations around innovative ideas and commissions site-responsive installations in a free, public exhibition.
Individuals and teams were selected as University Design Research Fellows through a national, open call competition for full-time university professors whose work is deeply rooted in design research.
The other 2022-23 fellows hail from universities across the country, including The Ohio State University in Columbus; Iowa State University College of Design in Ames; the University of Virginia School of Architecture in Charlottesville; Syracuse University School of Architecture in Syracuse, New York; Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge; Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana; and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Public by Design serves as a platform for many communities to become energized about the values of inclusivity, care and generosity. This cycle celebrates creative methods of collaboration that communities and designers can use to grow a sense of belonging and connection in public spaces.
The exhibition showcases how art and architecture can help build a sense of belonging. This is the only exhibition of its kind that engages in an international dialogue connected to the biennial exhibition structure while exploring the challenges that cities around the globe are facing today. The process of creating this cycle de-centers the idea that art and architecture are created by singular entities or curators; this exhibition highlights the fact that the best work is built with a broad belief in the collective power of community work and engagement.
This community-focused event opened as downtowns are rebounding from a post-pandemic reality to attract and retain visitors and businesses. The exhibit includes 13 installations of architecture, art, landscapes, graphic identity and wayfinding.
The installations will be on display through Nov. 26. This fall, Colangelo and Sharpless also will return to Columbus to participate in the University Design Research Fellows Colloquium, held on Nov. 4.
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