Ironworks Plaza: Illuminated Arcs - CODAworx

Ironworks Plaza: Illuminated Arcs

Submitted by James Brenner

Client: City of Mishawaka, IN

Location: Mishawaka, IN, United States

Completion date: 2023

Artwork budget: $520,000

Project Team

Lighting Design

Michael Cohen

Schuler Shook Inc.

Sculpture Design/Fabrication

James Brenner

James Brenner Sculpture


The 2023 Illuminated Arcs are 5 sculptures created for Ironworks Plaza, a Parks and Recreation riverfront development located in the city of Mishawaka, Indiana. The project included a new Parks & Rec building with a restaurant, an amphitheater and a “state of the art” ice skating rink with pathways that encircled 3 landscaped islands and a central plaza area.

The overall design concept is inspired by the free feeling of skating and the arc lines that are drawn on the ice. The 5 sculptures expresses a different aspects of skating: “Pair” the 20’ central piece with 2 arcs rapping around each other in relationship, “CrissCross” the 15’ rooftop piece is an intersecting lines that bend in tension at a central point, “Skate” a 12’ landscape island piece that expresses side to side skating movement, “Slide” 10’ island piece is one arc swooshing sideways on the other, and finally “Spin” a 10’ island piece made of two curved arcs that come together make a circular form.

For continuity, all the designs are made in the same way with the same materials, stainless steel rods and sculpted green float glass on the outside with a programable LED lighting system on the inside. The programable light system offers limitless possibilities for patterns of light movement and color.


The objective or goal from the City of Mishawaka was to produce 4 artworks that use light and would be of be interest to the public. From there which I hope to challenge myself to grow in my artistic practice.

My goal is to always to engage, reflect, and reveal my surrounding physical, cultural, social landscapes, their environments, and the people live there while bringing art into everyday life.

My primary tool for engagement is to listen well to the environment of the site, how it will be used and who will be using it. The next part is to listen within myself where my goal is to bring something into this world that will of interest to that site, what is needed to fit into what already exists tin this space but also make a visual statement to provoke a sense of wonder and appreciation for world we live in. then upon arriving at this idea I seek to allow the concept to reveal its self to the best of my ability. These are ideals that I am guided by in my creative process. The interactive process of working with others helps to flush the pieces out a little more every step of the way to completion.


There were a multitude of collaborators in this project and each had a vision for what needed to get done. I worked with the Mayor, the City Manager, The Architect, The Structural Engineer, the Landscape Architect, the Project manager for the General Contractor, the Electricians, the Crane Operator, my Associate Artists. My goal was to hold space for my concept, my vision but be in a place that can respond and work with what others have to offer as well. Most of these items were worked out in a round table format of coming up with solutions in zoom meetings.

The most rewarding collaboration for me came with the opportunity to team up with Michael Cohen of Schuler Shook lighting design. A number of light “shows” where created, some programs featured a color that is being passed back and forth between the sculptures, like a conversation. In other programs, the sculpture lights work in unison, like a dance troop moving together. The light programs are integrated with the landscape, ice and building lights to provide a unified presentation. This was a creative exchange the elevated both practices, one that I found very rewarding.

Additional Information

The essential arc forms are made of brushed stainless steel and sculpted glass. Its form and beauty are showcased in the light of day while the sculptures internal light command the night. The form and texture is defined by series of solid stainless steel rods that are precisely formed together. A small space is left open between them which allows for LED light to peak out between the rods. An addition layer of texture is added with short little rods segments that are randomly placed in the light slots. The light nodes behind the rods will appear and disappear as the viewer moves around the piece giving the light a sense movement. The inside and outside edge of the sculpture are made of sculpted green jade float glass that is laminated together with silicone. The edges of the glass pieces are shaped and textured with a hammer and anvil to produce a scalloped edge. This is a signature technique that I have developed over the years. This glass texture serves to manipulate the light that shines through it to form a twinkle effect.