Exterior Architecture / Mosaics & Decorative Tile / Contemporary Stone & Tile Design Magazine

Playful tilework enlivens light-rail station

July 13, 2011
KEYWORDS dart / mosaic / waterjet
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It is evident that careful thought and planning are given to the design of each station along the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) light-rail system. In particular, the newly designed North Carrollton Frankford Road stop is a vision of color and whimsy. Artists Larry Enge and Charlotte Lindsey of Montage 48/61 created a vivid and playful design with custom-cut tile from Waterjet Works of Dallas, TX.

“It was a great process,” said Enge. “DART has been working with artists for 15 years. Their goal has been for each station to have its own uniqueness and appearance. They also want each one to tie to the community somehow.”

Enge went on to explain that DART took time to select the artists as well as a group of community volunteers to participate in the project. “Once we were selected as artists, there were several meetings,” he said. “We talked with and listened to the community to find out what they wanted people to experience when they came to the station.”

Although many of the DART stations are positioned in areas surrounded by historic communities, the Frankford area has been mostly warehouses with very little community history, according to Enge. “It is mostly new development,” he said. “Many of the warehouses are still there while the neighborhoods that have developed are mainly composed of young professionals. We decided that it would be good to have something fun. [Also], this DART station is both at the end of the line and the beginning of the line from Denton side to the north, so they wanted a celebratory gateway at this station.”

Additionally, the land acquired for the DART station was tucked between two large warehouses. “Our challenge was to make it inviting and dispel any anxiety people may have about going down between the buildings,” said Enge. “We worked with the architects very closely. There were certain standard station fixtures that were available for artistic modification. As we worked in partnership with the architectural/engineering team for DART, our job was to come up with a design for the designated fixtures, and they provide the expertise in figuring out how to execute our design.”

“We were responsible for driving the design,” the artist went on to say. “We were using input from the community, but DART wanted it to be our artistic design. The architects were there to assist us. They let us know the design parameters for the station — what was possible and what was not.”

According to Enge, inspiration for the design, which took about two years to bring to fruition, came from the works of Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who his partner, Charlotte Lindsey, happened to have been studying at the time. “He has very whimsical designs,” he said. “Taking a cue from the works of Hundertwasser, we designed the columns at the station with bulbous shapes reminiscent of pottery and very colorful ceramic tile. The rest of the design spun off of that.”

In addition to the colorful mosaic columns, a wheel chair access ramp wall also provided a canvas for some creative artwork. The artists developed a festive design fabricated in ceramic tile that was custom-cut by Waterjet Works and supplied by Daltile Corp. of Dallas, TX.

Although there were elevation plans with all the measurements, the artists found it necessary to wait until the wall was successfully built to get measurements accurate enough for waterjet fabrication.

Enge went on to say that the customer service and experience provided by the waterjet fabricator helped tremendously in this part of the process. “Working with Waterjet Works was the smoothest part of the fabrication/installation for the project,” he said. “Their attitude showed that they really care about the creative process. Philip [Einsohn, company owner] offered suggestions that were helpful to me. It was obvious that his intentions were to do whatever he could to make the project successful.”

According to Einsohn, Waterjet Works has been involved in the design community since 1999. “Working with artists is a wonderful experience,” he said. “It has given us great insight into the needs of architects, interior designers and artists. We are a very detailed business, as are they. We speak their language, and that has helped us to succeed in numerous artistic endeavors over the years and across the U.S., such as at the DART Frankford Station.”

Einsohn went on to explain that he and his staff will work closely with artists such as Enge and Lindsey to make certain a project is a success. “They have found a partner in the process that will take their creativity and turn it into sustainable, durable art,” he said. “Public art is a great format for the collaboration between Waterjet Works and the artistic community. Charlotte and Larry were wonderful to work with.” The installation was completed at the end of 2010.

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