Blackwater

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Client: Southern Management Corp.

Location: College Park, MD, United States

Completion date: 2017

Project Team

owner

David Hillman

SMC

architect

Fair Tugberk

Architects Collaborative

Overview

Blackwater represents ecological stewardship of the
Chesapeake Bay. Brushed ripples in the stainless steel reflect as light on water while the copper-nickel salt marsh islands are both rising and sinking into the Chesapeake Bay.
The Hotel at University of Maryland is a new hotel at the entrance of the University of Maryland College Park Campus. As it serves the University’s needs, it also presents an opportunity to deliver an important message to an ever changing audience. Rodney Carroll was chosen as the artist to develop a vision that celebrates the Chesapeake Bay.

Goals

The lobby was the last part of The Hotel to be designed as client, architect and artist collaborated. The Blackwater lobby reception wall uniquely defines the space while educating people about the Chesapeake Bay.

Process

The original reception wall was flat with a door in the middle for utilitarian needs. Through design sessions with the owners and architect, the artist changed this to be a two part split wall that curved to cradle or encompass the reception area just as the salt marshes cradle Chesapeake Bay water. The curved wall shape helped to more intimately identify the reception area within the larger lobby. Overlapping walls allow necessary egress to the back area while covering this function from view just as the salt marsh islands allow tidal flow. The Blackwater salt marsh islands wall sculpture is a single work that is divided as a diptych, yet presents as a single unified sculpture element. Rodney Carroll designed and built the curved structural steel walls as well as the sculpture.

Additional Information

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a large nature reserve in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. It is a pristine location of preserved salt marshes that are the birth and nurturing areas of millions of fish, crabs, birds and terrapin turtles (the mascot of the University of Maryland). Also, this is a winter migration area for birds, geese and ducks. Rodney Carroll’s goal was to bring attention to this fundamental environment, to recognize the necessity to preserve this multi-species ecological system that ultimately effects all our lives. With climate change, rising tides, pollution and development threatening our planet, we must focus on the fragile fertile places that spawn life.