Houston Arts in Transit

Submitted by Sara Kellner

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Client: Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County

Location: HOUSTON, United States

Completion date: 2014

Artwork budget: $1,700,000

Project Team

Client

Sara Kellner

Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County

Architect

Rey de la Reza

RDLR Architects

Art Consultant

Sara Kellner

Kellner Consulting

Overview

METRO is expanding its existing light-rail with three new lines that add 15 miles of track and 22 stations. The stations’ architectural designs incorporate a combination of bent structural steel arches that support a glass roof, integrated artwork, signage and lighting. The artwork was developed through METRORail’s Arts in Transit program, which transforms the new stations into art landscapes featuring unique, original pieces from 14 artists and artist teams. METRO’s goal it to provide beautiful public spaces that enhance local neighborhoods and provide Houston with greatly improved quality of life through an exemplary transportation system and high quality artwork.

Goals

In order to ensure a successful incorporation of public art into station design, METRO established the following goals in 2006 in its public art plan: the METRO Light Rail Expansion links a rich variety of communities. The Arts in Transit Program will respect and celebrate the different characteristics of these communities. Public art will be appropriately tailored to the character of each neighborhood, reflecting community image, culture, identity and architectural heritage. Transit art will be developed based on a cooperative approach with the community, emphasizing public participation during the artist and project selection process. Works of art will complement passenger station architectural design by incorporating art as the primary element of variability. Art will not be considered a substitute for architecture, nor vice versa.

Process

Since its initiation in 2006, the METRO arts in transit program has involved dozens of art experts and hundreds of community residents in the process of determining the content of the artwork, the selection of the artists, and the shape of the artworks final design. Arts in Transit transforms individual stations into engaging showcases, each offering a proud and meaningful reflection of the diverse neighborhoods they serve. The Arts in Transit Program was designed so that the artwork could be tailored to the character of each neighborhood, based on a collaborative approach with the community.

Partners for this project included METRO Community Advisory Board members, Houston Rapid Transit, as well as hundreds of local neighborhood residents, local civic clubs, local community groups, local businesses, and those passionate about bringing high quality art to their community. Community groups actively involved in this project (including the selection of artists and participation in the artwork review process) included the Greater East End Management District, Greater Northside Management District, and OST/Almeda Corridors Redevelopment Authority. Platform artwork was fabricated by TB Penick in San Diego CA, windscreen artwork by Imaging Sciences in Willoughby OH and Standard Bent in East Butler PA.

Additional Information

This project was one of Houston’s largest single public arts efforts. This project will reach millions of Houstonians and visitors as they enjoy using these new light rail lines and stations. Below is a list of all of the artists who are a part of this program. North Line Arielle Masson, Leticia Huerta, Rolando Briseno, and Dixie Friend Gay. East End Line Ryan Geiger, Mary Lucking, Jesse and Josef Sifuentes, Dan Havel, and Paul Kittelson. Southeast Line Carroll Parrott Blue and Sharon Johnston, A.I.A, Jesse Lott, and Floyd Newsum. Downtown Sharon Englestein and Aaron Parazette, and John Runnels.