The Bain Project opened on Saturday, May 9, to large crowds and great success. The traditional tea presented by Triangle Chanoyu was well attended and ably interpreted by a narrator. Inside, visitors were asked to fill out an entry permit which assigned them to one of the city watersheds. They were then free to explore unguided throughout the structure. I will write more about my experiences when the dust settles, but for now, here is a selection of photos. Each will click to enlarge, while hovering gives you the title.
Several participants from the crowd were invited to take part in the tea. The device used for the purification came from the Bain complex. Recessed green doors served as the alcove, where objects and a carefully selected phrase set the tone for the tea.
The show runs through May 17. Go check it out!
The preview show for The Bain Water Project, which opened at The Morning Times on First Friday, offered some glimpses of what we can hope to see at the full on-site installation in May. The show also displayed a documentary, self-reflective style which is permeating the group’s work overall, I think in an excellent way. From the large scale photo and video displays seen at the music event, to the “open access” range of information available on some of the artist’s websites, this massive accretion of work is not least interesting for the shape of the artistic process itself, made visible in the large display of notes, drafts, and source materials on display upstairs on Hargett Street.
The artists meet most Saturday mornings at the Bain site to collaborate and consult, then spend many more hours creating art work in response to their experiences. For the preview show, they attempted to evoke a sense of the place, including bringing plants from on site, jars with samples of the debris and filter material, as seen above. The stripped masonry and ancient brick walls of the upper Morning Times are an ideal setting for the work.
The range of media and subjects derived from the Bain site remains quite varied, and if I imagine a conventional show of all the finished artworks I have seen, the unifying thread might be hard to describe. Luke Buchanan Miller’s large traditional paintings have a wonderfully loose sense of perspective and give a successful Impressionist view of an industrial space. But it can be difficult to shift gears and then find a totally different response in the layered, heavily sealed and almost subliminal images in the tiles by Marty Baird right next to these paintings. And this show will need to find room for conceptual art, correspondence art, digital graphics, perhaps some kinetic art, and no doubt some performance art before those weekends in May are over. The preview show gives some very encouraging signs that the individual art is also being couched in a group effort to re-present, artistically, the Bain space itself, and to evoke the artistic experiences being undergone by the group. I’m not complaining about the wide diversity of media emerging in the Bain Project. I think it’s all great. Seeing the imagery from so many artistic perspectives is intrinsically interesting. I’m also fascinated to see the project finding ways to exist outside of and between the individual artworks. One favorite part of this show is where you can see a photo, charcoal sketch, and painting of the same scene. You really get a feel for the artistic experience. The catalog pages, technical sheets, and other tatters of beauracracy offer a sense of the human history and the technical complexities of the place.
The Bain Water Treatment Plant represents a massive subject. The Art Deco exterior and lobby, the huge myriad of pipes, valves, pumps and holding tanks, and the stark abandoned and long neglected human workspaces, all comprise a complex portrait of early twentieth century Raleigh. As this group of artists pulsates in rythym, collaborating and privately creating, I look forward to an amazing show in May. And I hope the documentary style of the preview show, which illuminates the process-as-product, is a big part of the final event.
Green is red hot! Green is the factor of choice to apply in so many settings. You can choose a green college, a green vehicle, and a green refrigerator. I recently learned that right here in the Triangle you can even hire a green caterer. The friendly wager between Ed Begley, Jr. and Bill Nye, as to who has the greenest domicile, made national news. And of course there is a strong local thread of green options online these days, including the strong journalist investigations at Raleigh Eco News and the celebrations of sustainability at Green Grounded.
New construction in the Triangle is no exception. Green architecture is really picking up speed, with growing support from a market-driven, PR-supported, and professionally nurtured series of spectacular successes across the Triangle. Architecture has been the pioneer discipline for the business model of green conservation. A recent conference included some of the area’s largest employers exploring the bottom line benefits of “sustainability, broadly defined as meeting present needs without compromising those of future generations.” Green builders are giving architects exciting arenas for enacting this process. And we all benefit when we put some lean grace into our footprint.
The national icon of green institutional architecture is right here in the Triangle. The EPA campus, dedicated in 2002, represents a standard of both practical details and aesthetic and human values that will be hard to match for a long time. In terms of , it is considered the top rated project in the country. Not to be outdone, IBM is building a new data-base center that will be mighty green as well. Durham boasts the North Regional Library and a brand new Duke student residence as highly rated green structures.
Chapel Hill simply requires ALL new construction by or for the town to be LEED certified, which is the national standard of sustainable design. Frank Harmon’s design for the visitor center at the NC Botanical Garden is “slated to be the first Platinum LEED building in the Southeast.”
Frank Harmon seems to be riding a surfer’s wave of green projects. He is working on a multi-phase project at the Museum of Natural Sciences’ Prairie Ridge site in Raleigh, and was recently awarded the design for the new AIA headquarters at the edge of the Blount Streets Commons project.
All of these institutional projects are to be applauded. High end housing, if Ed and Bill have anything to say about it, will continue to grow the value of sustainable design. Local lower income residences may soon be included in the trend. We’ve had a local model for all this a very long time. A good final touch in any discussion of local green architecture is the NCSU Solar House, which, since 1981, has stood as a testament to and lab for these inevitable but so-long delayed trends. Now the Solar House has expanded its mission to support investigations into landfill gas energy, coastal wind programs and Healthybuilt Homes. NCSU and the College of Design give Raleigh and the Triangle a big boost in green leadership – let’s all join in and keep it up!
Lowe’s Park Pavilion, 2007
Mike Cindric and Vincent Petrarca
Steel, wood, and aluminum
Designed and built specifically for this site overlooking the Piedmont prairie meadow at the NC Museum of Art, Lowe’s Pavilion is “art-as-shelter.” Mike Cindric, as model builder and general technical guru, has been behind the scenes with a host of interesting projects over the years, and I’m thrilled to see him get such a prominent placement for his work, though I’m still mourning the removal of the Patrick Dougherty twig and branch castle recently removed from nearly this same spot. Lowe’s Pavilion has earned a merit award from the NC AIA, and a Sir Walter Raleigh award as well. The metal skin of this outdoor classroom or meditation space changes with the available light, helping to integrate the inhabitants into the natural spaces around the highly sublimated structure.
Mike has created a unique feel inside that highlights the experience of surveying the wonderful sculpture garden, heirloom prairie garden, and wooded hillside trails that have taken shape on the huge campus of the museum. These amenities are the long fruition of one of the few positive trade-offs in the museum’s decision to leave downtown. A few more outdoor images are below.
This place is well worth visit aside from the museum, whose new exhibition space is shown in progress below. The liason with the Raleigh greenway system is also a strong piece of the project. If you haven’t made it yet to the bridge over the Beltline, do it soon! And stop by Lowe’s Pavilion to catch your breath!