Eric Griswold artist statement
April 30, 2012
Statement by Eric Griswold about his design Beacon.
The Bay View Beacon is a simple, iconic tower about three stories tall with a bus shelter in the base. It resembles a lighthouse. A rotating light in the top calls to people from far away to come to this corner. The lighthouse design symbolizes Bay View’s connection to the lake. The embedded trolley tracks symblolize the connection to public transit. The construction of bare steel girders recalls the steelmaking history of the neighborhood. The interactive light curtains in the first level look to the future–the interaction of art and technology.
The light curtains will show wisps of changing color; growing plants, snowstorms and many other things. You will be able to sit and watch it for hours from Alterra, Stone Creek, Lulu’s, or any surrounding place. You don’t actually have to cross over the busy streets to appreciate it. But if you do, and go into the bus shelter, sensors will see you and special images will form and play with you. It is a kind of playful interactivity we have designed for the Burning Man Project before, but as far as we know it will be a first for Milwaukee.
When we first saw that intersection we realized it was already visually cluttered with all sorts of poles and traffic signals and boxes. We didn’t want to clutter up the view any more, or block the view of drivers and potentially create a safety hazard. So instead of sprawling all over the site, we went straight up with a simple, clean, iconic tower that is only 14 feet wide.
The Beacon will meet State standards for a windpower installation. Distance to all neighboring buildings must be at least 1.1 times the highest bladetip height. Sound levels must be less than 45 decibels at the base of the nearest buildings. This is less than the sound of normal conversation at three feet, which is about 60 decibels.
The Beacon will produce more green energy than it uses. The wind generator alone will harvest 50 kilowatt-hours per month. The solar panels will be on top of the structure where they will not be shaded and blocked by the shadows of the surrounding buildings in winter when the sun is low. We hope to produce a surplus of 20 kilowatt-hours per month to be returned to the grid.
The Beacon will be designed to meet 50-year wind standards as per City code. This means it must be able to withstand the highest peak winds one might expect over a 50 year span. We note that the year 1984 saw a peak gust of 81 MPH in Milwaukee. We have to design for things like that. That is why most of the height of the Beacon is empty space where the wind can pass right through.
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