Artist Uses Etched Stainless Mesh As Canvas For Minnesota Transit Station

November 17, 2015

Project Name: Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (CCLRT) West Bank Station 

Location: Minneapolis, MN 

Architect: Aecom 

Artist: Nancy Blum 

Fabricator of Metal Birds: Fedtech, St. Paul, MN 

GKD Metal Fabrics: Omega 1510, 1550 

Photography: Katrina Hajagos

Philadelphia artist Nancy Blum created the art portion of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (CCLRT) West Bank Station titled “Immigration/Migration.” Blum states, “The design recognizes the area’s immigrant communities through patterns on architectural mesh and depicts the migratory bird thruway of the nearby Mississippi by hanging soaring bird imagery cut out of stainless. The two stairwell platforms are the location of the integrated artwork.”

The architect and artist selected GKD primarily for our ability to etch graphics on our metal fabric materials. We also engineered a system that allowed the screens to support the birds that were attached directly to the screens. The two Omega metal fabrics, 1510 and 1550, although primarily chosen for their etching capabilities, were also chosen for their solar management capabilities. The material has a transparent characteristic; no mechanical systems are required for ventilation – translating into energy and cost savings.

GKD media etching transfers graphic elements onto a hard metal surface through a mechanical process. Although the majority of our metal fabric materials can be etched on, our Omega series is preferred due to its flat front surface.

According to GKD’s solar engineer and designer Tom Bialk, “The etching process begins with graphics files that have been created in an AutoCAD program. These files are used to create masks, which are then transferred onto grids and applied to the metal fabric for etching. Almost any design can be etched using this process. The results are unique, with appearance changing as the viewing and lighting angles change, and as daylight yields to night.”

Because the graphics are etched directly to the surface of the mesh they are extremely weather resistant and durable. The vibrancy of the graphics is controlled by the duration of the blasting and the blasting media used. Bialk further states, “Since the graphics are etched directly onto the metal surface, there is no danger of the graphics fading.”

The panels are etched prior to installation and require no additional specialized equipment for install or maintenance.

Photography courtesy of Katrina Hajagos via Nancy Blum

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