Skyline - CODAworx

Skyline

Client: City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County

Location: Charlotte, NC, United States

Completion date: 2022

Artwork budget: $621,000

Project Team

Artist

Susan Narduli

Narduli Studio

Lighting Design Engineering / Installation

Michael Meacham

idesign

Project Management

Todd Stewart

The Arts and Science Council Charlotte - Mecklenburg

Director, Capital Projects

Doug Tober

Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority

Architect

Daniel McNamee

Neighboring Concepts

Architect

Lei Gao, Tricia Moore, Jay Thomson

TVS Design

Photography

Narduli Studio

Overview

SKYLINE juxtaposes urban imagery and dynamic content to create a visual narrative of the City of Charlotte. It evokes the breath of the city through a welcoming and slowly transforming space.

Located in Uptown Charlotte’s Center City, the site-specific artwork is sited on the new Pedestrian and Light Rail Bridge that spans College Street to connect the Stonewall Station light rail stop to the new wing of the Charlotte Convention Center.

Along the length of the bridge, patterns cut into the metal perimeter railings mark the site. At night these backlit panels create a soft glow along the circulation path.

The viewing platform at the center of the bridge is the focal point of the artwork. Approximately 1,000,000 pixels line its walls and ceiling, upon which the ever-changing rhythms of the city are reimagined as an immersive environment of abstract animations. An AI media server for content generation drives the artwork, processing the realtime data influencing the digital content within an intelligent timeline that responds to time of day and season. This data informs the sequencing, rhythms and subtle palette shifts of the artwork to create a fusion of nature and abstraction. A curated ten minute show plays every evening.

Goals

The artwork is located in the heart of Uptown along the east approach to Charlotte Center City - the historic hub of economy and culture and a unique mix of neighborhoods and businesses currently experiencing unprecedented growth. I immediately understood the significance of the site and the potential to create a dynamic visual gateway that could reflect the changing dynamics in Charlotte’s urban core.

Of priority was the site’s importance as a crossroads of diverse activities and demographics. We were mindful that this artwork must be welcoming and accessible to the many visitors of the Convention Center, engaging to the daily commuter along the light rail and meaningful to those who live and work in the area and the surrounding buildings. Given that this would be a 24 hour environment, issues related to security, durability and long-term maintenance were a critical consideration.

SKYLINE functions as a timekeeper for the city, reinforcing the significance of the Convention Center and the Pedestrian Bridge as a public stage and gateway to Charlotte’s Center City. It can be experienced from Stonewall Street, from the passing trains, from neighboring buildings and along the bridge. It unfolds with changing perspectives as one moves through the site.

Process

The project began with a kickoff meeting of city representatives and the design team to discuss the vision for the site and how I might approach this commission. To retain the architectural integrity of the bridge and viewing platform, I presented a concept for an integrated artwork that would be experiential rather than sculptural and began research on materials and systems that could work within the enclosure of the cube. I soon imagined a dynamic gateway of light and pattern, one that would translate the rhythms of the city itself into an immersive experience and formally pay homage to Charlotte’s iconic skyline,

The process of designing a system that would have day/night visibility, hold up to exterior weather conditions and be robust enough to resist vandalism proved challenging. Narduli Studio and LED integrators at idesign collaborated well over a year to research and develop a LED solution that would meet all the parameters. It consisted of a digital canvas of connected LED bars that could be integrated into a perforated metal panel system. Due to the number of pixels across the individual fixtures, an AI server was necessary to process and map the content. A custom program manages the content generation in an intelligent timeline that responds to time of day and season.

Additional Information

2023 MUSE Design Platinum Award: Public Art Installation ; 2023 CODA Merit Award: Public Spaces