Project Description

Uplifted Ground at the Austin Airport

Uplifted Ground is a sculptural landscape at the core of a pedestrian walkway connecting the terminal at the Austin International Airport to its car rental facility. The artwork is an integral part of the structural design for the pedestrian walkway, assisting with the conversion of an existing parking deck into the equivalent of a pedestrian bridge. The project embodies several interrelated concepts including geometries and transitions based on local geological formations, Texas minerals, and patterning from aerial photography throughout the state. As a transition space, Uplifted Ground utilizes the viewers’ motion north and south to experience the transformation of the piece along the over 300 foot long walkway space. Upon approaching the space one experiences the piece as a combined abstraction of hundreds of earth toned ground-based and suspended elements. Entering the space one first encounters a series of raised plinths articulated with complex relief patterns. Further into the space these plinths diminish in length while rising in height into cubic concrete elements with textured relief patterns, copper and steel details, and cut and incised shapes and scores. These cubic forms begin to uplift rising further still from the ground, with Texas Llano Uplift granite merged into the surface of the elements. At a very specific but unseen threshold (due to a weight limitation of the existing parking deck) the cubic forms begin to visually separate from their base and uplift into the air suspended by steel cables. This notion of uplifting has many meanings from the nearby Llano Uplift geological formation, to the uplift of aircraft and perhaps, the uplifting of one’s spirit.

Continuing along the walkway one experiences the gradual transition of hundreds of floating elements as they stretch horizontally in the direction of the viewer’s movement while also ascending and descending along the path. This progressive elongation is experienced vertically when approaching the walkway from the north heading south back to the terminal, offering an alternative visual experience depending on the direction of the traveler. Similar to the vertical elements and steel cables, the walls flanking the main work are comprised of vertical steel elements, partially open for ventilation, transparency, and dramatic shadows in the morning and late afternoon. The floating vertical and horizontal elements mingle in the center of the walkway in a complex arrangement reminiscent of Michael Singer’s earlier Ritual Series sculptures. As the viewer continues through the space the floating elements begin to reverse in transition and slowly sink back into the ground, form into cubic elements, finally to stretch into plinths and then disappear into the ground.  At night, light emerges from the hollow elements through geometric openings, creating a graceful dance of light along the walkway as one passes by.

In an effort to create visual continuity to the walkway space, some of the sculptural elements are carried into the outdoor spaces of the car rental facility. These elements are selected from the vertical pieces in the core space and are paired with defined ‘well’ bases. The vertical pieces hang elegantly within the expansive overhead space and reference both nearby geological cave formations as well as the drawing of water from wells connected to limestone aquifers in the region. Similarly to the floating elements within the walkway, at night these vertical elements are lit from within, creating a tapestry of floating geometric shapes and guiding the traveler to their destination.

Uplifted Ground  was selected and recognized as part of the Americans for the Arts 2016 Public Art Network Year in Review; see here.

The project was also covered in the summer 2016 edition of Precast Solutions; see here.

Artist / Designer: Michael Singer
Singer Studio Team: Jonathan Fogelson, Jason Bregman, John Gioello, Al Chapman, Will Robart,
Ryan Larson, Will Hannum, and Jacob Amrhein; ; APF Concrete; Delray Metal and Machining
Engineering: Sam Thomas, Calen Colby and Jason Beaulieu at
Colby Co Engineering; Carrasquillo Associates
Austin AIPP Project Manager: Carrie Brown
Austin Airport Project Manager: Matt Coldwell
Installation and Rigging Prototyping: Shur-Rig LLC
Railing Fabrication and Installation; Wall Installation: Crippen Sheet Metal
Surveying: Surveying And Mapping, LLC
Structural Steel: Patriot Erectors
Electrical Installation: Schmidt Electric
CONRAC GC: Austin Commercial
Photography: Jeremy Green Photography, Michael Singer Studio

Uplifted Ground at the Austin Airport