Grotta Aeris Raleigh, NC 2019
We were commissioned to create an artwork as part of a lobby renovation, designed by Gensler, in 150 Fayetteville | Wells Fargo Capitol Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Grotta Aeris is a crystalline structure clad in copper-finished composite panels, such that it becomes an extension of the central elevator bank, which itself is clad in copper-backed glass panels. The form of the piece is inspired by the crystalline growth of natural elements. Copper, like many other natural elements, will grow in a very structured way, but as it responds to its immediate environment, the overall growth pattern takes on a more organic form. The rigid edges of the piece retain the rule-based logic of crystalline growth, while the overall form is much more organic, like the grotto-like form of an outcropping of growing copper.
The piece spans from the floor to ceiling and frames the main entrance to the elevators. Its size, form, and prominence in the space might ordinarily give it quite a heavy feel, but the work is made to feel lighter by back-lighting it with a subtly changing animation.
The lighting is exposed through the seams of the panels breaking down the crystal-like formation and inverting its solidity into surfaces and seams. The subtle changes in the lighting give what appears to be an inert rocky structure a living quality, as if it is undergoing a slow chemical reaction. The polished copper along with the changing light constantly reflects and redirects the movement of people through the lobby in unexpected ways. While the piece appears to grow out from the elevator core, it is the reflective surface of the copper panels that actually brings in the activity of the lobby and context, collapsing the surrounding activity into an unexpected three-dimensional kaleidoscopic image of the piece’s surroundings.
Photos: Alan Tansey
Find out more about the process:
Photos of testing and installation