Inspired by the waves of the Hudson River, public artist Pamela Nelson created a vivid mural using different shades of slate for the lobby of Schaefer Landing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY.

In recent years, the Williamsburg community in Brooklyn, NY, has transformed from a busy industrial area to an up-and-coming, chic place to live. Situated along the Hudson River, the city streets are lined with galleries, restaurants, boutiques and high-rise apartments - including Schaefer Landing, which sits on the original site of the Schaefer Brewing Co. plant. And to add a hint of urban sophistication to the lobby design of the residential complex, a colorful wall and floor mural was made from slate.

“The design goal is to give warmth and life to the public lobby areas of a residential community located on the water, overlooking the Manhattan skyline,” said Pamela Nelson, a painter and public artist from Dallas, TX. “I designed the floor and walls as a gathering bundle of people and destinations, sort of looking from above, as an architectural plan.”

Varying shades of slate, supplied by MS International Inc. of Orange, CA, form overlapping wavy lines on the floor and wall in a section of the lobby. The vivid colors and unique design instantly become a point of interest upon entering the space. The textured feel of the slate further brings dimension to the design.

“The waves from the river as the water taxis are coming in are similar to the repeating pattern,” sad Nelson. “The colors of the natural slate create a natural harmony, yet the tones are from light to dark to provide contrast.”

Waterjet Works! - a custom waterjet design and fabrication company in Dallas, TX - was responsible for the fabrication of the mural pieces. The slate was cut on waterjet machines from Flow International of Kent, WA.

“It was an enjoyment to be able to turn slate into art,” said Philip Einsohn, owner of Waterjet Works! “Being able to work with artists and see how they can take simple stones and turn them into works of art was great. Art is so important to our well-being. It is a pleasure having the opportunity to work with an artist. I hope this aspect of our business continues to grow.”

According to Einsohn, it took one week to program the job and two more weeks to fabricate the pieces. The entire mural was then assembled in the company’s shop to ensure that it was correct.

“One of the most important uses of our square footage is in the assembly area,” said Einsohn. “Nothing goes out the door without being completely assembled and digitally photographed. We know it is correct before we ship it.”

Although Waterjet Works! does not employ its own install crews, the company worked closely with installers and provided detailed installation maps with phone support to ensure the project’s success. “We know what they need to succeed, and we give them what they need,” said Einsohn.

Since the completion of the project, Schaefer Landing has enjoyed complete occupancy, and people are enjoying the lobby, according to Nelson. “People are uplifted by the presence of public art - where care and thought goes into design,” she said. “Maybe people then go out to give more care and thought to how they treat others.”