Charlotte Area Transit System’s Art-in-Transit Program
As part of the extension of Charlotte’s extension of the LYNX Blue Line (their public light rail system), the city made a commitment to integrate artwork at various stations. Mikyoung Kim Design created a sculpture at the new University of North Carolina, Charlotte station that serves as a gateway to their campus. A sculptural form in the heart of the dynamic plaza leads students through an interactive central space defined by light and shadow play.
The goal of the Charlotte Area Transit System’s art-in-transit program is to improve the region's quality of life by providing opportunities for the public to experience art along the transportation network. The Nexus is one of multiple projects commissioned along the blue line extension.
The central design element is an integrated sculpture that is a series of enveloping, stainless steel shadow screens. The undulations of the custom-textured and perforated sculpture guide students and visitors through the plaza, becoming a focal point along their journey. The folds and bends encourage seating and engagement, allowing travelers to pause and appreciate their natural surroundings. Students and visitors trigger interactive lighting as they approach, creating a dynamic shadow pattern. Activated by motion sensors, choreographed LEDs activate the plaza as students walk to campus or the station platform. Colored light fixtures are located around the sculpture perimeter and highlight the movement of the light rail.
A delineated paving pattern radiates out from the plaza, leading pedestrians to the train station. On the platform, glass windscreens incorporate global maps and the transforming condition of time, representing the world's time zones. Shadows are highlighted as the sun passes through the glass, lengthening and shortening throughout the day.
Within this invited arts commission, Mikyoung Kim Design worked closely with the light rail to develop a concept that highlighted movement and transportation. The firm worked closely with the client on refining the conceptual design, including an extensive community engagement process with the University and the City to ensure that this important integrated arts plaza represented the ideals of the overall project.
The public art and plaza design was supported by local landscape architect, Kourtnie Vincent, who was responsible for the plant selection. Shade trees and a planting bed of contrasting grasses and shrubs curve around the plaza along with a group of Crape Myrtles.
The Nexus at UNC Charlotte
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