CHCA – Public Art Project for Columbia Pike Bus Shelters – Community Input

Dear neighbors,

At the last CHCA meeting, I was appointed to represent the neighborhood on a group that is providing feedback to the county on the public art for 23 new bus shelters on Columbia Pike. The group is called a Community Technical Advisory Panel, or CTAP. The first meeting was held on October 31, 2019. The public art will be installed at new bus shelters along Columbia Pike. The bus shelter at Walter Reed is not slated for an art project. Here is some basic information about the project status and the scope of work for CTAP:
  • A contract is already in place with the company that will install the 23 bus shelters.
  • The design for the bus shelters is included in that contract and cannot be altered at this time.
  • Public Art staff was invited into the process after the design specifications for the bus shelters had been determined.
  • The county decided that the art will need to be placed on the top of the bus shelters, not on the back or side panels due to concerns about blocked views for businesses and residences, although the art will be partially transparent.
  • The county decided that the art will be printed on a film to be adhered to the top of the roof panel of the shelters. CTAP has been told that the material has been extenstively tested for durability and color fading, is expected to have a useful life of 20 years, is easily reprinted, and is already in use for art at shelters in Crystal City.
  • The role for CTAP is to help select a vision for the artist who will be contracted to design the art for the 23 bus shelters.
  • CTAP will not select the artist, but will provide guidance to an Art Advisory Panel which will make recommendations to the Public Art Committee relating to artist selection and design.
The first round of installations will be at four bus stops, and this is based upon the timing of installation.The art installation must come after all other work has been completed. Accordingly, the first installations are planned for the following bus shelter locations:
  • Columbia Pike at South Four Mile Run Eastbound
  • Columbia Pike at South Buchanan St. Westbound
  • Columbia Pike at South Glebe Rd. Westbound
  • Columbia Pike at South Oakland St. Westbound
Considerations such as safety, comfort, and shelter are all factors that had to be considered for the shelter design. The controversy over the Walter Reed bus shelter seems to have driven the choice of doing art on the roof panel only. I and others expressed regret that the decision to use only the roof panel significantly restricts the artist on the effect that can be achieved. It certainly will be a challenge for the artist. If you look at the bus shelter design, you will see why it is an issue. Among other things, the shelter will be shaded through fritted glass on the roof panel, causing pixilation. I understand that this has already been discussed extensively “in-house.”
There was some discussion about the durability of the material and color fading. I inquired about whether there is a capital maintenance budget for the public art program and was informed that there is. One reason the film was selected by the county is due to the ease and low cost associated with reprinting the design for replacement.
CTAP suggested that the county reconsider the scope of the restriction to the roof only, if possible. However, there was a consensus from CTAP that we did not wish to hold up a contracting process already approved by the County Board. County public art staff indicated that much can still be achieved with existing restrictions. I am attaching the presentation given to the CTAP during the first meeting. Please note that this is background information only. The public art profiled in the presentation is not indicative of preference by staff or the CTAP.
We have a thoughtful and engaged group of volunteers on CTAP, and a short timeline in which to develop recommendations. It is anticipated that our work will be completed by January 2020. You can reach me at 202-352-8982 if you would like more information or want to share some feedback. Please be aware that I might be slow to respond to this email due to family and work obligations, so if you have time-sensitive concerns please call or text me if you are interested in this public art project.
Thank you, everyone!
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