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Syracuse celebrates installation of student-designed solar-powered light prisms along Connective Corridor
Syracuse celebrates installation of student-designed solar-powered light prisms along Connective CorridorMarch 23, 2009Jemeli Tanuijetanui@syr.edu
Five innovative, green-friendly, student-designed light prisms will be unveiled along a section of the Connective Corridor during a special opening ceremony at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 25, in front of Syracuse Stage.
The event, coordinated by members of the Connective Corridor and SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, will be a celebration of the collaborative work between Syracuse University and students at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) who consulted with local business owners in a design competition in spring 2008 leading to the final product. The event also seeks to acknowledge Connective Corridor partners, including the East Genesee Regents Association, City of Syracuse, SU, the Syracuse Public Art Commission, and community residents and business owners who assisted in the research and judging portions of the design competition.
The five solar-powered prisms are informational as well as aesthetic light sculptures made of heavy-gauge steel and translucent polycarbonate panels. Each prism has six triangular panels etched with graphical interpretations of historic events that happened in Syracuse, taken from newspaper archives. Solar panels sit on top of the prisms, soaking up energy during the day. A small light-sensitive mechanism is designed to trigger the lights inside the prisms each evening as soon as darkness falls.
“Not only are the prisms an engaging, sustainable green way to illuminate the Connective Corridor, but the collaborative process through which they were designed symbolizes the partnership at the heart of the Corridor,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “Community members, the City of Syracuse and faculty and students from across SU and SUNY-ESF all brought their strengths to this project to create a visually elegant lighting solution for the Corridor that also recognizes and brings to life the community’s history.”
The five prisms will be installed in a curving line along the E. Genesee St.-Irving Ave. intersection, leading the eye toward downtown Syracuse. Installation begins Tuesday, March 24.
The final design was a result of the “Change Your View” charrette-an intense period of time when students work together to solve a specific problem-that charged the students with creating design proposals on how to bring a key section of the Connective Corridor to life. The competition drew 39 SU and SUNY-ESF students from 11 different majors. The students split up into six teams and worked around the clock for three days, under the supervision of Michael McAllister, director of design and innovation at VPA’s COLAB, known at the time as the Center for Multidisciplinary Design. COLAB’s mission is to encourage students from various disciplines to find fresh solutions to real-world problems by working with community and industry partners. McAllister is also assistant professor of industrial design at VPA.
“I find it particularly satisfying that the light prisms will be solar-powered,” says Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr., president of SUNY-ESF. “So, not only are we showcasing art, community history, community connections and collaboration by several different groups, but we are also maintaining our commitment to increase our use and development of renewable energy resources.”
The winning team included five VPA students: Greg Allen ’08, an industrial and interaction design alumnus; Mary Geiger ’10, a design/technical theater major; Jessica Lewis ’08, an interior design alumnus; Barbara Livar ’08, a fiber arts/material studies alumnus; and Yelena Prusakova ’10, an industrial and interaction design major. The team also included Bruce Davison, a graduate student in SU’s School of Architecture, and Paul Brogna ’08, a SUNY-ESF landscape architecture alumnus.
“These light prisms are the final product of our first charrette, which was so successful it has become the model for how we continue to work at COLAB,” says McAllister, who chose the project based on a conversation he had with Marilyn Higgins, SU vice president for community engagement and economic development, about a need for aesthetic improvement along the Corridor. “When you see the finished work, it gives you an idea of how intersecting students from many different disciplines can produce dynamic, practical results to specific problems, such as the immediate need to aesthetically enrich the Connective Corridor.”
“The Syracuse Public Art Commission is pleased to have played a role in this collaborative effort to bring more art to the streets of Syracuse,” says SPAC Chairperson Christine Capella-Peters. “This installation moves us forward toward the goal of creating lively public spaces that spark interest and conversation.”
Dennis Earle, adjunct professor in VPA’s department of design and a project manager at COLAB, created the finished, working version of the design with the help of McAllister and Ron DeRutte, adjunct professor at VPA, resulting in the 7-foot-5-inch tall working prisms.
“The final design is lively and interesting, but also has a little something more to it, to engage you,” says Earle. “The prisms bring some vibrant color to the Corridor-both in daylight and at night-but the bits of historical news articles recreated on the panels provide some context-while still remaining fragments, a bit mysterious-to be completed and given meaning by the viewer.”
Allen was a fifth-year industrial design major looking for an exciting project centering on public space for his thesis requirement when news of the charrette came. “I got involved because I found the interdisciplinary makeup of the team very appealing,” he says. “I had never worked on a project with people outside my field, so it was really inspiring, really neat, to see how all the different people with different academic backgrounds interacted. Knowing now that our design is going to be installed just tops the whole experience.”
The Connective Corridor is a signature strip of cutting-edge cultural development connecting the University Hill with downtown Syracuse. The Corridor will make investments in key locations to support historic landmarks, cultural institutions and private development in the city. These areas include the emerging arts districts along East Genesee St. and the Near Westside; Forman Park, the Fayette Firefighter’s Memorial Park and Columbus Circle; the nightlife of Armory Square; and the Civic Strip, where the Oncenter complex and the Everson Museum of Art tie into the center of downtown. The Corridor will showcase these assets and ignite a resurgence of economic development, tourism and residential growth.
For more information about the Connective Corridor, visit http://www.connectivecorridor.com/