A monumental sculpture for Portland, Oregon begins to take shape.
Since 2010, we have been developing a sculpture for the Clinton Street light rail station, along TriMet’s new Portland-Milwaukie light rail line. Situated between the Hosford-Abernethy and Brooklyn neighborhoods in Southeast Portland, the community expressed a desire for a piece that would serve as a beacon to the station, which is set back 50 feet from a six-way intersection.
Inspired by the lines and curves of abstract topological transit maps and the powerful materiality of rail, we designed a piece to celebrate both, with a soaring interlocking tower and seemingly impossible bends. To execute our vision, however, we would need to develop an entirely new method for bending railroad track to the impossible angles required by the piece. Luckily, we found a couple of fabricators in the Portland area who were up to the challenge – Jim Schmidt and Ken Mack.
The piece is scheduled for installation at the end of 2014 or in early 2015, and we recently took a trip to Portland to visit Jim and Ken and their team to check in on the progress. What we found was inspiring. The fabrication team has developed a cutting-edge method for bending railroad track into angles the material was never meant to achieve. The results are simple, refined, elegant and impossible. Behold: