Where We Met by Janet Echelman

July 30 2016 (3) by Lynn DonovanThe installation and lighting of the Echelman sculpture, commissioned to honor the area’s rich textile history, was the highlight of the LeBauer Park opening ceremony week. The first permanent, commissioned artwork by The Public Art Endowment at The Community Foundation, Where We Met was supported by the LeBauer bequest and a $1-million grant from The Edward M. Armfield, Sr. Foundation, established by and named for the late textile industrialist.

The largest public art installation in the southeast, Where We Met is an undulating, colorful net hung high above the park’s Great Lawn from four mammoth pylons positioned around the perimeter. The connecting shape from which the net is draped mirrors an 1896 map of N.C. railroad tracks connecting many of the state’s major textile hubs at the time.

JanetEchelman_Photo by Todd Erickson courtesy Studio Echelman
• The Public Art Endowment managed the process through which Janet Echelman ultimately was chosen, as well as the project overall, from design to fabrication to installation.
• Janet Echelman is an internationally acclaimed artist who lives outside Boston, Mass. She has been recognized by Smithsonian magazine with its American Ingenuity Award in Visual Arts, Architectural Digest as an AD Innovator, Public Art Network in its Year In Review, the Knight Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and others, and her artwork is listed among Oprah Winfrey’s “50 Things That Make You Say Wow!”
• Works by Echelman have been installed (permanently or temporarily) in such diverse locales as Amsterdam; Sydney, Australia; Vancouver; the headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle; Porto, Portugal; Phoenix, Ariz.; Madrid; and Houston, Texas.
• The form suspended in the center is in the shape of mapped 1896 railway lines throughout North Carolina, connecting Greensboro with many of the state’s textile hubs at the time.

• The resulting sculpture is a leaf-like image that floats and billows over the Great Lawn and is dramatically lighted at night.
• In the winter, the net will be lowered and stored to avoid any problems from ice formation, both to the public below and the material itself. The sculpture will be lifted back into place each spring.

• The colored portions of the sculpture are designed to gently billow in the wind, while the top structural net above holds firm to the exterior supports.
• More information about Echelman and her work can be found at echelman.com

Structural Net
• 2,800 feet of rope = 0.53 mile
• 81 hand-spliced rope connections
• Made of a double-braid rope with an ultra-high molecular weight polyethelene (UHMWPE - Spectra) and a polyester cover braid. The fibers are more than 15 times stronger than steel by weight
• Plan area of the structural net is 3,500 square feet

Sculptural Net
• Spans 200 feet x 130 feet
• 185,291 feet of twine = over 35 miles of twine (35.09)
• 3,000 square feet of twine
• 242,800 knots

Total Sculpture
• 188,091 feet of twine = over 35.62 miles of twine
• Pylons are 30 inches in diameter and up to 60 feet tall
• There are hoists built into each pylon that allow the net to raise and lower and are accessed via a porthole on the side of the pylons.
• There is a swiveling block (pulley) on top of the pylons that lets the angle of the cable change when the net moves in the wind.
• Sculpture exerts 12,000 lbs. (6 tons) of force at the top of each pylon under design wind loading.