Despite what billions of dollars in profits might imply, Disney doesn’t have the market cornered on Frozen fun. They are onto something, though.
Winter has a unique beauty that will be celebrated with Winter Weatherdance, a collaborative public art installation in Iowa City on Feb. 12, 2016.
Throughout the afternoon, weather permitting, architects from OPN Architects and art students from the University of Iowa with support from the Iowa City Downtown District, will bring the now dormant Weatherdance Fountain to life with paper-thin ice sculptures that will tower over the pedestrian mall in shapes that mimic the fountain’s warm weather arcs of water.
Designed by Wisconsin artists, Andrea Myklebust and Stanton Sears, the fountain was inspired by the nuanced and unpredictable Midwestern weather, and creates an elegant place of play that celebrates the energy of all of the seasons, especially the summer. In February, though, we will revel in the energy of winter.
Ice as a structural and design medium is not new. In the 1960s, Swiss structural engineer Heinz Isler, famous for his thin-shell concrete structures, experimented with ice catenary forms. He created catenary curves – the shape that a hanging chain or cable assumes under its own weight when supported only at its ends – by draping fabric in perfect tension, freezing it, and flipping them right side up, creating unique geometries that are shockingly thin. While only studies, Isler’s ice forms have a surreal magnificence all their own.
It is the unique beauty of winter as well as the work of Isler and others that inspired this installation, in fact. Fifty-four years after Isler’s experiments, students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Architecture + Planning created Forces Frozen. The next year, in March of 2015, students at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning, including the author Hugh Soward, who is coordinating the Iowa City installation, explored paper-thin ice forms in a study they called Frozen Form Finding.
Winter Weatherdance will take cues from these previous exercises. The installation, though, will be unique to Iowa City because it is inspired by its location. Like architecture, the sculptures will reflect and respect the space they inhabit.