We provide a unique array of services including Design optimization, Engineering Coordination, and Project Management for our clients in large scale civic art with project budgets ranging from $30,000 to $2M and up, in locations worldwide. We typically work for the artist directly, but at times provide services directly to a commissioning agency, gallery, or private client. As experts in digital fabrication and component based design, we can often suggest solutions using these techniques that enhance the concept while saving money. We are sensitive to conceptual and curatorial issues, and are well versed in materials, engineering and code compliance, and technologies that are often central to the commission. We enjoy the challenges and uniqueness of each civic art project, acting as a translator and broker between the broad array of professions involved; creating value through attention to detail, diligence, and clear communication.
Artist Jim Isermann's Cougar Walk is an outdoor public art work installed at the University of Houston's new Cougar Stadium. Consisting of a series of eight foot square pre-cast panels, each of the nineteen panels features patterns of interlocking U's and H's. These were erected as walls and groundwork at the southwest corner of the new stadium, and greet visitors as they exit from the new rail line extension that runs through the campus. The design utilizes recycled glass and black onyx, giving the letters a sparkling appearance in the light.
Metalab oversaw design optimization, fabrication documentation, and project management of the work, with panels manufactured by Gate Precast. The site also features Metalab's signature solar powered lighting product, Ringo.
Many thanks to photographer Pete Molick, who brought out his drone to capture the project for us.
Metalab was thrilled to once again collaborate with Houston artist Randy Twaddle to create this trio of benches for the top of the Centennial Mount at Houston’s Hermann Park. The three figures are based on a Fibonacci sequence, extracted and developed spatially as sinuous objects. Fabricated from solid pieces of Leuders limestone quarried in central Texas, they were cut using a five-axis computer numerically controlled (CNC) robot by our friends at AX5 Resources.
Radiance, developed by artists Shane Allbritton and Norman Lee of RE:site, is an artwork designed for the El Paso Airport. The elaborate hanging piece makes use of the iconography of a mix of cultures in El Paso, translating them into a three-dimensional Mandala. Layered acrylic pieces with a dichroic film in the middle form the physical manifestation of the Mandala, which is mirrored in the supporting structure. Suspended from a steel canopy, the colorful and shifting material of the installation plays in the light, evoking the stunning vibrancy of a southwestern sunset.
Conceived by Brooklyn-based artist Matthew Geller, Chroma Booster is a 55' tall "cloud generator" designed for a public plaza in El Paso, Texas. The structure consists of a series of interconnected pillars constructed from industrial piping, and houses a dozen stainless steel collars. These collars feature high pressure misting nodules and LED lighting, activated by visitors at a control panel. In addition to these collars, a series of downspouts showers onto the plaza below. Chroma Booster is located directly between the El Paso Convention Center and the newly-constructed Southwest University Park (home to the AAA El Paso Chihuahas), making it a visually fascinating feature in a highly-trafficked area.
Metalab carried the project from the design development stage through construction, providing design optimization, construction management, fabrication coordination, and assembly.
The three sculptural signs from Paul Kittelson have been installed at the Magnolia station on the East End MetroRail line on Harrisburg at Wayside. The three assemblies of extreme way-finding where developed with an algorithm that sorted name lengths, directions and distances and packed the signs into a close arrangement while avoiding self-intersection. When the trains pass by the signs will become urban scaled wind chimes. Merge Studios fabricated and installed the signs with shop fabrication drawings and full-scale alignment templates provided by Metalab. The columns are festooned with unique weathervanes designed by the artist and fabricated out of stainless steel with iconography representing Houston, Texas and the World. We worked for Houston Rapid Transit who are building all the lightrail extensions in Houston with great support from Sara Kellner as the public art administrator.
Tumbling House is a privately commissioned architectural folly by The Art Guys that doubles as a dynamic playscape for children big and small. An assemblage of completely customized components forms a house that is seemingly frozen in a series of Muybridge-like stop-motion instances as it wildly tumbles through space. The implied trail of the tumbling house is solidified into a pathway that also doubles as its support structure in the form of a primary 50' arch and secondary rolled pipe forms. The suggested trajectory of the bounce is translated into "ghost houses" that float in the air and embed in the ground with integral playground features - a slide, swings, and a climbing ladder. The uppermost house serves as a fully finished and enclosed "tree house" filled with whimsically surreal interior accoutrements provided by the artists. Metalab provided design development and optimization, 3D modeling, architectural documentation and project management for the artists from conception through completion. A digitally fabricated "kit of parts" were made into subassemblies that bolted together and minimized work on site.
The Huddle is a sculpture by New York based artist Matthew Geller for the front entrance to the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. This work of art features a public swing with handicap accessible seating suspended from a stainless steel canopy supported by three tactile columns. The surfaces of this piece are as engaging to the touch as they are to the eye. Metalab provided architectural design, digital fabrication and construction management on the project. The installation phase was completed in an hour.
Designed by New York based installation artist Chris Doyle, is a Percent for Art project located at the City of Austin at the new Public Safety Training Facility. This permanent installation was designed as a modest, open-air shelter and includes a roof mural that was made through CNC cut perforations to the corrugated stainless steel canopy. The pavilion and canopy were fabricated and pre-assembled in Houston and shipped to Austin as a kit-of-parts that require minimal site work.
Our first collaboration with Jim Isermann installed in a courtyard at Ohio State University. We worked with Deep South Plastics, the same roto-mold fabricator we worked with on PV-POD. Jim's work is a fascinating combination of repeating geometric patterns, intense use of color and inventive architectural products.
Memory Cloud is the winning commission awarded to RE:Site (Norman Lee and Shane Allbritton) and METALAB by Texas A&M University for the new Memorial Student Center 12th Man Hall. Through a competition, the team demonstrated the ability to harness the potential of programmable LEDs, remote sensing, parametric design and digital fabrication to create an open ended narrative of the story of the University through animated silhouette imagery of past and real-time present student life on the campus. Texas A&M, a place of deep traditions that are played out on the football field at every game and in the everyday lives of students will create the imagery that will be played within the layers of the LED matrix at different speeds and durations. Parametric design created a unique cloud form that creates a landscape within the student center where monumental and ephemeral figures will pass through the space, blurring the distinction between past and present.
Two pioneers in human space flight, Yuri A. Gagarin and John Glenn are memorialized in contrasting media, a perforated stainless steel halftone image of John Glenn rendered as a contrast to a bronze of Yuri Gagarin donated by the Russian consulate. Metalab, working with Architect Ron Witte and Artist Randy Twaddle developed a custom algorithm to render John Glenn’s iconic image aboard the Mercury Capsule by perforating the shape of the capsule in a staggered pattern with varying sizes to render light and dark tones. The image panels are delicately suspended on thin standoff rods connected to a powder coated steel frame. Each figure stands on a shallow plinth edged in cor-ten steel, in an historic dialogue on the site of NASA’s first manned space flight headquarters, now occupied as the Houston Parks and Recreation headquarters.
Jaume Plensa’s TOLERANCE is a set of seven stainless steel human figures, each kneeling atop a boulder placed along the banks of Buffalo Bayou just outside of downtown Houston. All of the figures are taken from the same model, but each is composed of a distinct set of characters taken from a mix of languages including Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Greek, Latin, Hindi and Cyrillic. At night, the figures glow from within, creating a “constellation of beacons.” Metalab, working on behalf of the Houston Arts Alliance, provided construction management and installation services, and fabrication of a custom foundation system that allowed for rapid placement of the sculptures on site.
Open Channel Flow, a sculpture by New York based artist Matthew Geller, was commissioned by the Houston Arts Alliance as a permanent piece for the City of Houston Art Collection. Turnkey architecture, custom component fabrication, and construction management helped to realize this commission as a kit-of-parts that was assembled on site efficiently with the quality and finish of a manufactured product. Located next to Buffalo Bayou, the structure emerges from the landscape of a Houston Water Production Station to a height of 60'. Inspired by the unexpected protrusions of plumbing infrastructure in urban lots, the colossal pipe works features a public outdoor shower activated by a hand pump. A nearby skate park ensures that a steady flow of skaters and passersby will indulge in a refreshing spritz on Houston's infamously humid afternoons.
Woozy Blossom (Platanus nebulosus) with Matthew Geller, Artist commissioned for Katonah Museum of Art. This sixteen-foot-high perforated steel tree produces a continuous fog, inviting visitors to be engulfed in its mist and revel in its cool, moist air. The fog is in a constant state of flux, sensitive to the slightest changes in wind, temperature, and humidity. Simultaneously eerie, unexpected, and playful, Woozy Blossom transforms the Katonah Museum of Art Sculpture Garden into an ever-changing, otherworldly environment. Metalab contributed digital parametric design and fabrication. The project was built as a kit of parts that can be disassembled, packaged and shipped to its location. Installation took one day.
Radiant Fountains, a set of three sculptures by artist Desnnis Oppenheim, was commissioned by the Houston Arts Alliance for the Houston Airport System. The work serves as an icon visible to motorists upon leaving Bush Intercontinental Airport and entering the City of Houston. Each 60' tower is wrapped in animated LEDs that begin as droplets plunging downward and then radiate out in a seemingly endless upward flow of light and spectacle.