Molecule

Submitted by Paul Housberg

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Client: University of Minnesota Duluth

Location: Duluth, MN, United States

Completion date: 2019

Project Team

Architect

BWBR

Industry Resource

Derix Glasstudios

Industry Resource

Superior Glass Inc.

Overview

Four windows, each 130”h x 25”w for the Heikkila Chemistry and Advanced Materials Science Building at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Vitreous enamels on float glass tiles laminated to a tempered glass substrate. Commissioned by the University of Minnesota Public Art on Campus.

Goals

The Heikkila Chemistry & Advanced Materials Science Building (named for the innovative chemist, inventor, and entrepreneur Kurt Heikkila) is a brand new, three story, 56,000 square foot construction, slated to open for classes in Fall 2019. The building’s interior has been designed with clear walls so that students, faculty, and visitors alike will be able to see applied chemistry in action. Inspired by the research unfolding throughout the building, the imagery is suggestive of molecules, the basic structure of all materials, while the tiled application evokes a tension between order and chaos. The north facing windows are based on a yellow and amber color palette infusing the interior space with warmth and energy. From outside at night, illuminated by ambient interior lighting, the windows are like beacons.

Process

The project could not have been realized without the collaboration of the Public Art Committee, BWBR Architects, Derix Glasstudios, and Superior Glass Inc. My first task was to become familiar with the space and expectations of the committee. We explored several color options before settling on a predominately amber palette throughout that unifies the four windows and adds warmth to the space. Fabrication of the windows involved combined several techniques for treating the glass with vitreous enamels including screen printing, airbrushing, and sandblasting executed at Derix Glasstudios. Superior Glass Inc. provided the framing system and installation of the windows.