More public art to rev up Rockville Pike
First new sculptures to be unveiled next month
Barnaby Zall hopes he's seeing the start of an eye-catching trend along Rockville Pike.
A growing number of new mixed-use developments along the busy thoroughfare are including public art projects for visitors and residents to enjoy.
Two developments under construction, North Bethesda Market and Twinbrook Station, will have projects completed by two respected artists James Sanborn of Washington, D.C., and Howard McCalebb, an American living in Germany.
"We know White Flint is a culturally-oriented community," said Zall, co-chairman of the Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit that represents residents, businesses and property owners in White Flint. "There is art throughout the community and we think there should be art in the commercial areas as well."
Public art can capture the spirit and character of a community, he said.
Montgomery County planners say they encourage public art, but the planning department doesn't require it for developments.
However, developers wishing to increase the density of projects in the Central Business District, Transit Mixed-Use Zone and the Commercial/Residential Zone can do that if they are willing to add amenities such as open space, walking trails, affordable housing or public art, said Joshua Sloan, a coordinator in the development review division at Montgomery County Planning Department.
Developers who have chosen an artist and a likely public art idea are required to go before either an art review board or a public arts steering committee. The review bodies can ask for changes before a recommendation is sent to the Planning Board, which has final approval, Sloan said.
JBG Companies of Chevy Chase is the developer for North Bethesda Market, a residential high-rise with a Whole Foods, an L.A. Fitness and other services located across from White Flint Mall, and Twinbrook Station, a 26-acre project that will eventually encompass Twinbrook Metro station.
At North Bethesda Market, visitors and residents who use the paseo will have the chance to view a sculpture produced by Sanborn, an artist famous for his encrypted Kryptos sculpture at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va., said Jack Devine, principal of Artists Circle Fine Art in North Potomac and an art consultant for JBG Companies.
Sanborn, who was not available for comment, has created an 8-foot high, 4-foot wide bronze cylinder perforated with waterjet cut text. Inside, the cylinder will have a pinpoint light source, while outside it will be surrounded by a red granite text ring, Devine said.
During the day, the texts can be seen on the cylinder or from the surface of nearby pavement. At night, the interior light will project the text over a wide area, Devine said. Near the sculpture will be a waterfall bordered by a white granite "river of stone" and a polished red granite oval ring.
"I think it will be quite captivating and people will respond well," Devine said.
Native American texts will be displayed along with famous quotations from American politicians like Thomas Jefferson or other historical figures, he said.
Like Kryptos, the cylinder will have coded texts that challenge viewers to interact with the artwork. Cryptographers, professional and amateur, are still trying to break the code for a section of the Kryptos, according to the CIA's Web site.
The developer commissioned McCalebb to create a series of outdoor art projects at Twinbrook Station. McCalebb's artwork has been exhibited alongside those of Pablo Picasso, Julio Gonzalez, Anthony Caro and David Smith. His venues include China, Germany, Hong Kong, Poland and the United Arab Emirates, in addition to private galleries and museums in the United States.
The first two pieces of public art at Twinbrook Station are brightly colored sculptures made of welded steel titled "Butterfly" and "Cat's Tail." The artworks will stand at 10-feet and 6-feet, respectively, and will be green space attractions, according to a statement from JBG Companies.
"We really are proud of the inclusion of public art in this project and we want people to know about it," said Anthony Greenberg, vice president for development for JBG Companies.
The sculptures will be installed April 1 and will be among the finishing touches for The Alaire, a 279-unit luxury apartment community with 15,000 square feet of retail space. The Alaire is the first phase of construction at Twinbrook Station, and officials will celebrate its official grand opening April 22.