Ola - CODAworx


Submitted by INES ESNAL

Client: DGS Department of General Services

Location: Washington, DC, United States

Completion date: 2022

Artwork budget: $72,000

Project Team


Sandy Bellamy



Sam Fisher



Miqui Guillen



Miguel de Guzman + Rocio Romero

Imagen Subliminal www.imagensubliminal.com


Ola - Spanish for sea wave – evokes the forces of the sea. Winner of the Washington DC Department of General Services "Percent for Art" competition, the interior installation at Capitol Hill Montessori School at Logan inspires students´ curiosity about the natural World. Influenced by the Montessori principles of connection with nature, the suspended installation redefines the ceiling through a waveform that moves from a deep wave at the end of the gallery to a shallow break at the top of the staircase. The catenary structure - three layers of undulating polypropylene blues hues cords- hangs from an aluminum horizontal wave attached to the ceiling. Walking through the gallery, the overlapping cords which slightly vibrate, create an illusion of flowing in a submerged environment.


The artwork in the Discovery Commons West Wing Gallery is displayed in a challenging space with a V-shaped ceiling and a continuous light fixture. The sculpture responds to these conditions by floating within the volume of the space, making a bold statement. The aluminum structure is designed to maximize the space, with a wavelength that meets fire code clearance requirements between sprinkler heads. The strings of the sculpture follow the curves of the ceiling and staircase, with the deeper curves aligning with the highest points of the ceiling and the shallower curves following the angle of the staircase. The sculpture was designed to be lightweight due to the existing dropped ceiling, and there was no budget available for modifications to the lighting.


The design process for the artwork in the Discovery Commons West Wing Gallery was challenging due to several unique conditions in the space. Initially, the ceiling was expected to be glass, and the artist proposed using fabric as a base material. However, when the glass was covered and the sprinkler system was taken into consideration, the artist decided to use a more permeable material, such as string. To properly install the artwork, the team had to measure the new space conditions and assess the ceiling supports. The sculpture came preassembled in pieces, but the strings needed to be adjusted on site. To do this, the team had to use a scaffold as there was no access that would fit an articulated boom lift. Coordinating with the architects, contractors, installers, and the school was a significant part of the project.