Metal fabric from GKD is used for etched façades at AECOM’s West Bank rapid transit station
The architects at AECOM designed the rapid transit stations of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (CCLRT) in Minnesota, USA. For the glass façade of the particularly heavily frequented West Bank station, they chose full-surface cladding with the metal meshes OMEGA 1510 and OMEGA 1550 from GKD – Gebr. Kufferath AG. Etching and application of large-format bird silhouettes are what give the textile stainless steel shell its effect.
As an efficient solar protection façade, the woven skin reflects the sun’s rays and thereby significantly reduces heat input into the two-storey station building. Yet despite this, the open structure of the mesh facilitates unrestricted visual connections between the interior and exterior.
At the same time, the high degree of light transmission bathes the station in natural light and creates a pleasant atmosphere. Thanks to additional interior lighting, the passengers are also visible from outside, giving them the feeling of subjective safety. Despite its sophisticated and delicate structure, the metal mesh façade is extremely rugged. It resists the adverse weather conditions typical of the region and does not present any surface for vandals to attack.
The mesh effect inspired artist Nancy Blum to produce a work that reflects the region’s eventful history
The façade cladding combines this range of characteristics with exceptional aesthetics, whereby targeted light effects generated by externally fitted spotlights allow the mesh to appear either transparent or opaque, depending on the perspective of the observer.
This effect inspired artist Nancy Blum, who is very popular in the US, to produce a work that reflects the region’s eventful history as a melting pot of nations and a multicultural transit point. Using an etching process, GKD transferred ethnic images onto the OMEGA 1510 mesh based on her designs, evoking the three main regions of origin of the immigrants in Minnesota.
Blasting media is used to modify the smooth surface of the mesh in such a way that the patterns created also appear either transparent or opaque based on the incidence of light and location of the observer. As these images are applied directly to the surface, they are permanently weather-resistant and do not fade when exposed to UV light. The special fascination is created by the visually seamless integration into the building. Nancy Blum gave the façade another dimension by fitting silhouette-like migratory bird motifs made of stainless steel. In interaction with the ethnic images, they highlight the rich history and multicultural mix of this region.
Photograph © Nancy Blum