Adjaye Associates Transform Electrical Switching Station Into Empowering Art Wall
Adjaye Associates has unveiled images of its proposed reconceptualization of the protective façade of an electrical switching station into an engaging “Art Wall” in Newark, New Jersey. The 30-foot-high walls of the Fairmount Heights switching station will be transformed into a canvas for original works of 14 local and international artists, exploring themes of youth, education, and community, while a canopied passageway will house a market, art installations, and gathering space.
The 1,790-foot-long, pre-cast concrete wall encompassing the substation will contain niches for permanent artworks to be embedded into the façade. The collection has been curated in response to changing levels across the site, allowing the work to remain at the observer’s eye-level. Along the eastern elevation, a public realm is defined by 34-foot-high columns merging into 49 canopy tops, supporting an overhead art installation while providing shelter for a gathering space and market.
By providing a platform for 14 incredible artists, the Art Wall transforms a piece of necessary infrastructure into a civic anchor for Fairmount Heights and its community. This project speaks powerfully to public architecture’s ability, regardless of scale, to enhance the specificity of a place and to enrich the lives of its users. My hope is that it might serve as a model for integrating meaningful public programs into even the most utilitarian urban developments. -Sir David Adjaye, Founder and Principal, Adjaye Associate
The scheme’s balance between infrastructure and community extends beyond aesthetics, with 30% of the construction carried out by local residents, and a prioritization of locally sourced materials and contracts. Six of the artists producing work for the scheme are local to Newark, with other artists hailing from Jamaica and Venezuela.
To deliver the scheme, Adjaye Associates worked with collaborating architects WSM Associates, structural engineer Garden State Engineering, lighting consultant Regency Lighting, and construction manager Jingoli Construction. The station is expected to be completed in the summer of 2018.