In The News

Panther Island public artwork to be dedicated Thursday

by Gaile Robinson | Dec 09, 2015

FORT WORTH 

The first structure on the city’s almost-built Panther Island will be dedicated at 9 a.m. Thursday.

The premier construction is Wind Roundabout, a 30-foot kinetic sculpture by California-based artist Ned Kahn, which sits in the center of the traffic circle that joins Henderson Street and White Settlement Road. The circular tower is covered in a scrim of hinged aluminum plates that move with the wind and reflect the sunlight during the day and headlights at night.

Scheduled to appear at the sculpture’s dedication are Mayor Betsy Price, Mayor ProTem Sal Espino, City Council member Ann Zadeh, JD Granger of the Trinity River Vision Project, and the artist. The public is invited to attend.

WHEN IT ALL COMES TOGETHER, IT WILL BE A MIRACULOUS NEW NEIGHBORHOOD. - Ned Kahn, artist

Wind Roundabout will be in the center of Panther Island’s west island. Currently, the entire area is a massive construction project that will encompass three new bridges over the Trinity River and a bypass channel of water that will separate 800 acres north of downtown into Panther Island.

“When it all comes together it, will be a miraculous new neighborhood,” Kahn said.

While the ribbon-cutting moment may seem premature — the sculpture lacks landscaping, and the roads are still being built for the roundabout — it had to be done now, Granger said.

$952,230 - budget for Wind Roundabout

“It seemed to make sense to have the piece put in, even though it is still a construction zone so we don’t interrupt traffic in the future,” he said. “Plus, the longer we wait, the costs would go up.”

Wind Roundabout has a budget of more than $952,230. Even though all of the invoices have not been submitted, Martha Peters, vice president of Fort Worth Public Art, anticipates it will come in under budget. The sculpture is owned by the city and will be maintained by Fort Worth Public Art. It was paid for by the city and the 2 percent Public Art receives from infrastructure projects.

Landscaping of the roundabout will include a retaining wall to hide the drainage pipes that are jutting from the surface and grass and bushes instead of the unnatural green erosion cloth. It is part of the Panther Island Bridges construction project and will be installed in about 2 years when the bridges are complete, Granger said.

IT SEEMED TO MAKE SENSE TO HAVE THE PIECE PUT IN, EVEN THOUGH IT IS STILL A CONSTRUCTION ZONE. - JD Granger, Trinity River Vision Authority executive director

While the sculpture project has taken more than 10 years, “this is fast track for a public art pieces,” the artist said. Panther Island (formerly called Trinity Uptown) has been in the planning stages since the 1990s; The Trinity River Vision Master plan was adopted by the City Council in 2003.

After a slow start, the creation of Panther Island is becoming more of a reality as the massive earth-moving equipment carves the new river bypass channel. Granger said that with the activity came the developers. The area is being constantly recorded by video cameras so progress can be watched in real time on the Trinity River Vision website.

Kahn was chosen to create a piece of public art for Panther Island 10 years ago. When the roundabouts were designed, he chose one for his sculpture.

WIND ROUNDABOUT IS 30 FEET TALL BY 30 FEET WIDE, WITH 400 MOVING PLATES.

“This whole idea of orbiting around this thing, and for it to be equally interesting from all angles, was interesting to me,” he said.

In his previous works, there was a definitive boundary between the architecture and the sculpture. Here, the sculpture is the architecture, and it morphs as the environment and time of day changes. Sometimes it is transparent; sometimes it is opaque. The stronger the wind, the more it moves.

He has placed many of his kinetic panels on the sides of buildings where the wind ripples across the surface, making visible what is invisible. The psychological effect of watching the wind play across his pieces “is similar to watching a fire, waves on a lake or tall grasses swaying in the wind,” Kahn said.

THIS WAS LIKE CREATING A BUILDING — AN ENTIRELY USELSS BUILDING PERMEABLE TO LIGHT, WIND AND RAIN. IT IS SORT OF A GOSSAMER GHOST.

Ned, Kahn, artist

Kahn has tested his structures under the most adverse weather conditions, and he admits he was impressed by the Texas winds. He said that by adhering to the proportions found in nature — making his little panels no larger than tree leaves, for example — his structures can withstand hail and strong winds.

“This was like creating a building — an entirely useless building permeable to light, wind and rain,” he said. “It is sort of a gossamer ghost.”