Terrazzo: Asheville NC Public Art. US Cellular Center

Submitted by Joan Weissman

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Client: City of Asheville Public Art

Location: Asheville, NC, United States

Completion date: 2013

Project Team

Artist

Joan Weissman

Joan Weissman Studio

Industry Resource

Ronnie Smith

Asheville Tile

Overview

City of Asheville Public Art commission: a national competition as part of the four year renovation of US Cellular Center (Asheville Civic Center). The terrazzo section is approximately 12' x 42', and marks the entry to the Thomas Wolfe Theater. The surrounding terrazzo flooring frames the artwork with a simple grid pattern.

Goals

The terrazzo flooring was designed to honor the historic aspects of the building, which had extensive changes since it was originally built by the WPA. Geometric Art Deco themes were essential to a smooth companionship between the new artistic floor, the original terrazzo inside the theater, and art deco elements throughout the interiors. Colors and patterns enhance the architect-designed renovations, and the directional design guides the public toward a more user-friendly entrance.

Process

Two proposals of original artwork (scaled, color gouache paintings) were presented to the Public Art and Culture Commission, and they approved their favorite. The artwork was transferred to CAD format for installation. There was close collaboration both on and off site with the architect, project manager, and terrazzo contractors regarding color mixture, choice of aggregates, and details about divider strips. Artist was on site for part of the installation process.

Additional Information

There is a particular historical interest to this piece, as Asheville has a huge collection of terrazzo from the early - mid 20th century throughout the city, in both private and public buildings. Asheville Tile, the company performing the installation, represents three generations of work in the city. Owner Ronnie Smith’s father Albert laid the original lobby floor when the Civic Center was constructed in 1974, and Smith’s grandfather installed the mosaic on the front of Asheville City Hall.