Client: Mecklenburg County, the Charlotte/Mecklenburg Public Art Commission and Arts and Science Council

Location: Charlotte, NC, United States

Completion date: 2019

Project Team


Marc Fornes



Carla Hanzal

Arts and Science Council


This cloud-like permanent pavilion is the stuff of dreams. Its open volumes appear to be filled with air, yet the floating form is held up by a continuous structural skin in ultra-thin aluminum. A unique system of computationally generated “structural stripes” accumulate to produce an experiential veil that is also self-supporting. This labyrinthine arrangement of unique parts unfurl across the surface in two layers of 3mm aluminum. Openings in the skin are generated between turns in the dueling layers, which dilate over broader expanses of the canopy and contract where the double-curvature meets in seams or resolves into nine hollow columns.
Working closely with the Arts and Science Council our studio created this signal and place-making structure for the newly renovated Valerie C. Woodard Center in Charlotte, North Carolina as a friendly and inviting place for the local community to come together, mingle, take a pause or simply reflect.


PILLARS OF DREAMS is an icon to be experienced. The cloud-like pavilion is anchored to the ground on nine legs, which are part of the continuous aluminum surface that makes up the double-curving canopy overhead. These open pillars resolve into a field of clustered seating, establishing a public agora for visitors and employees. Along the path from parking to the main entrance, the pavilion accommodates friendly interaction as well as quiet moments for reflection. The airy structure offers relief from the sun but also casts dynamic light through its porous surface. The atmosphere within, full of color and dappled light, inspires curiosity, collegiality, and a renewed spirit of place.


Building on the aggregation of spheres across THEVERYMANY’s prototypical structures, PILLARS OF DREAMS thrusts these volumes into the air. At 26 feet overhead, they appear to float like balloons. But it’s not helium that keeps them afloat, nor any primary or secondary structure. The skin, made of 3,564 parts and held together by 54,000 rivets, is also self-supporting. The intricate patterning of the two-layer, 3mm surface negotiates transitions between the large areas of double curvature and the intensive, or constrained curvature of the tube-like columns.
Labyrinthine parts in two colorways comprise the two faces of the ultra-thin skin. Supporting one another as they assume curvature and gain height. One layer never exists independently, but contributes to and benefits from the unified whole.
We always maintain a close working relationship with our clients, fabricators and engineers, and this project was no exception. Assembled on-site part by part, this project acts as a symbol of how many parts can become a whole when supporting each other, similar to Charlotte’s community, the Valerie C. Woodard Center’s organization and visitors drawn in by the cloud-like structure.

Additional Information

MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY is a New York-based art and architecture studio specializing in the intersection of unique, spatial experience and structural performance. The studio’s method is deeply rooted in computational research and digital fabrication to produce public art, installations, architectural skins, and free-standing structures. Over the last ten years, the studio has designed and built a number of thin-shell pavilions and installations that push the limits of form, structure, and space. Somewhere between architecture and art, each public project aims to provide an otherworldly experience for its visitors, while also contributing to the visual identity and sociality of its site.