River

Submitted by Susan Zoccola

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Client: R.W. Baird & Co.

Location: Chicago, IL, United States

Completion date: 2019

Project Team

Interior Designer

Michelle Olsen

Eppstein Uhen Architects

Artist

Susan Zoccola

Susan Zoccola LLC

Overview

The 2 story atrium sculpture is inspired by the Chicago River and the significant source of commerce the river has represented for the city. The sculpture incorporates a sense of forward and reverse flows, representative of the civil engineering feat of reversing the direction of the Chicago River in 1900. The connection between multiple floors, multiple parts of the river and nature’s water cycle signify the ongoing, repeating and growing nature of Baird’s relationships with their clients and associates. Steel, aluminum, copper leaf, aluminum leaf, blown glass. 26' x 16' x 3'.

Goals

I worked closely with the architects, client and general contractor to develop and install this 2 story sculpture that runs beside the new stairway between the 57th and 56th floors (which were opened up and connected for this project). The artwork also provides some privacy for a conference room on the 57th floor.

Process

I worked closely with the architects, client and general contractor to develop and install this 2 story sculpture that runs beside the new stairway between the 57th and 56th floors (which were opened up and connected for this project). I worked with engineers, fabricators, and assistants to make the artwork itself. Starting from my original drawing, we then waterjet cut 18 large aluminum panels - 2 sets of 9 identical panels - one set hand metal leafed in aluminum, and one set in copper. The panels are attached to specially engineered and fabricated vertical rods which are 6” apart and 24’ long (welded to I-beams in the ceiling and floor during construction). We invented custom collars to simply and elegantly hang the panels. Installed, these 2 “drawings” - one copper and one aluminum - create a dynamic effect in the space and the views constantly change over its course from 57th floor ceiling to the floor on 56, depending on the location of the viewer. There is also a cluster of glass and stainless steel suspended elements hanging from the ceiling of the 57th floor.