Lunchtime Tourist

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February 14, 2005 // UPDATED 1:52 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Linda Koutsky
Linda Koutsky

Most artworks in public buildings are made in artists' studios and then moved to the site. But James Carpenter works alongside some of the country's biggest architecture firms, and his work is more integrated into their buildings. His sculpture at the 225 South Sixth Street building hangs unobtrusively overhead and reflects shifting colors into the lobby. It looks like part of the building - but it's actually art.

Carpenter earned his degree in glass sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design. For the next 10 years, Carpenter worked for Corning Glass Works developing new glass technologies to control and manipulate light in architecture.

His main mission as an artist is to explore the phenomena of light as it influences architecture. Naturally, architects liked his work, and many ended up hiring him.

One of his current projects is in at Seven World Trade Center - the third building to collapse on 9/11 and the first to be rebuilt. The nearly completed 60-story tower looks like a crystal prism with glass panes that shift in color.

Here in Minnesota, Carpenter won the 1991 Wabasha Street Bridge competition with a design featuring a giant V that held suspension cables. However, St. Paulites rejected the design as too contemporary and too expensive; Carpenter still got to build a glass amphitheater below on Raspberry Island.

For his pioneering work developing new glass technologies, Carpenter received a MacArthur "genius" grant in September. The $500,000 "no strings attached" awards are awarded to individuals whose creative efforts show great future potential.

Our sculpture Downtown uses dichroic glass. Micro-thin coatings of metallic oxides are adhered to the glass. Different layers interfere with different wavelengths of light, making colors appear to shift and change as you walk past the sculpture. Enjoy the view!

LUNCH TIP: Artisan cheese sandwiches are available in the building's own Au Bon Pain.

Send your comments to thelunchtimetourist@hotmail.com.