out of sight

2006

shade canopy and seating for a light rail station, metro blue line, willow station, long beach, ca
client: los angeles county metropolitan transportation authority

materials: glass w/ photographic interlayer, steel, concrete w/ relief
size: 9’x30’x1’
structural engineer: brad w. smith
steel contractor: paragon steel
glass contractor: arch aluminum and glass
concrete contractor: quickcrete
willow photograph: alexandr bravo
photos: courtesy of metro © 2006 lacmta, merge

willow station is a busy light rail station along the metro blue line, which links the areas of los angeles and long beach. the premise for this project was the need for platform seating elements as well as a shade structure. the canopy structure utilizes existing pillars for support.

the focus of our artwork is a passenger’s experience when looking out of a train car: watching the passing landscape, a traveler can observe an object from far away, slowly coming close, then for a moment see it almost as a still, frontal image before it disappears out of sight. the memory of a moment can stay in the mind of the observer, almost like a photograph, but the actual image has passed.

in our design we are working with the quality of fleeting images, similar to one’s experience in travel. two photographic images appear on a folded canopy construction. through the special structure of the canopy only one fragmented image can be seen from either platform direction as it is approached. upon approaching there is one moment when one image becomes perfectly aligned and perceivable. upon passing this view point the second image comes into view and fragments the first image. from underneath the canopy both images are equally in view, breaking each other into stripes. the viewer standing right under the canopy also perceives a stretch distortion to the images.

the choice of images is a play on the present and past conditions encountered at the site: the “urban canopy” of the train cables as opposed to the “natural canopy” of the willow trees that once grew right there.

in addition to the canopy, two precast-concrete benches were installed. the benches are inscribed with text fragments which cue the user to the thought process behind the canopy: posing questions about one’s experience of travel and relating to the history of the site.