The dealership-heavy stretch of Okeechobee Boulevard just west of downtown will get its first taste of aesthetic relief, as Braman Motorcars on Monday won approval for an artist’s LED “light sculpture” to bring changing colors to the face of its new garage.
City commissioners unanimously approved the installation by Bill FitzGibbons, a lighting sculptor whose projects adorn an office tower in San Antonio, Texas, a forlorn underpass in Birmingham, Ala., and an art museum in Knoxville, Tenn., among other commissions from Alaska to Rhode Island, England and Sweden.
The $243,000 West Palm project represents 1 percent of the cost of Braman’s garage at 2801 Okeechobee Blvd. Under the city’s Art in Public Places ordinance, developers are required to contribute at least 1 percent of the value of their project for artwork on-site or to a fund for art elsewhere in the city.
Sybille Welter, director of the city’s public art program, noted that Braman’s Miami-based owner, Norman Braman, is no stranger to the art world. Braman, former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, has an art collection valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Last year he gave Miami a museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, in the city’s Design District.
“West Palm Beach Lights,” as the artist calls the upcoming project, will adorn the south face of new garage, illuminating about 15,000 square feet of the facade with energy efficient LED lights.
The installation will employ horizontal and vertical fixtures, integrated into the building. A computerized system will be able to constantly change the color. The display will start at dusk and slowly illuminate and intensify as the sky darkens.
This trafficky section of Okeechobee hosts one car dealership after another and many stores and restaurants but to date has no public art to improve its aesthetics.
“It is my intent to provoke the elevation of architectural space into an engaging human experience,” FitzGibbons said in a summary presented with the city commission agenda. “Light sculpture can have a magical affect on the built environment.”