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NBC5: Art Piece Completed for Trinity River Vision Project

by Chris Van Horne | Nov 13, 2015

Work on Fort Worth's new Trinity River Vision Bridges has been going on for years and there are still a few more years to go before all three are finished.

But on Monday morning, one smaller part of the overall project is officially complete.

For the last few weeks Uwe Langmesser has been at the center of attention and the roundabout along Henderson Street where it'll meet White Settlement Road.

Langmesser, a resident of Maine and native of Germany, and an assistant have worked meticulously the last three weeks to install the second phase of the "Wind Roundabout" art piece.

The first part, the structure that will hold the main art feature, was installed back in May.

The second phase called for the installation of about 4,000 aluminum rectangles called "flappers" that, as their name suggests, flap in the wind.

"For the Fort Worth wind, you really have to tighten this down," Langmesser said as he shows us the complicated nature of installing the flaps.

Each flapper requires two screws and other equipment so they can grip steel tension cables on the outside of the 30 foot high and d30 foot diameter structure.

Langmesser is installing the piece, which was designed by Ned Kahn, a world famous artist and sculptor who has installed these wind-activated sculptures on buildings throughout the world. The Fort Worth piece though is a first. It's the duo's first free-standing piece and it's in the round.

The goal of the flappers, says Langmesser, is to see the wind that you can't usually visualize.

"Nature makes it a complete piece," he said.

It's a piece that is constantly changing and Langmesser says even he and Kahn don't know what to expect from it.

"It is not like a bronze statue, you put down there and you sort of know what it does," he said. "With this piece, we will have -- and together with your winds -- we will probably have things, movements in this thing, which we've never seen before."

Most Fort Worth public art is installed after a project finishes or at the very tail end. In this case, Wind Roundabout is really the first finished piece of the Trinity River Vision Project, also known as Panther Island.

"The decision was that it would be nice to show something that indicates the progress," said Martha Peters, of Fort Worth Public Art.

Showing drivers and residents that progress is happening is part of the reason. Another major reason is that with the artist selected and the piece designed, building it in the future could prove to be more costly. With the piece now finished, it's a chance to show off what the future may hold for an area currently undergoing major construction for the bridges.

"It's really sort of setting the stage for the kind of architecture and development the Panther Island Project will bring to Fort Worth," Peters said.

While there's still a long way to go before the rendering of what the roundabout area could look like, Langmesser's work is done.

"Unless it falls over while I look at you, then yes, I would call it done," Langmesser said.

He was headed back home to Maine by early Monday morning, as the first piece of the long-awaited Trinity River Vision Project is now shimmering in the wind. Landscaping still needs to be added, but the plan is to officially dedicate the project early next month.

The project has been in the works since 2007. The art project was funded by bond money and Peters said it did finish under budget.

The Henderson and White Settlement bridges are on schedule for completion in early 2018. The North Main Street bridge is set to be done by late 2017.

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Published at 5:58 PM CST on Nov 2, 2015