Life evolving behind the lens

Unexpected Art: Light Rail Edition 3

We’ve now arrived at the motley crew section of the light rail stations. Cedar-Riverside, Franklin Ave and Lake Street/Midtown are all quite different from each other. However, they do have some common threads. First, these three stations are all located near heavily non-white populations. Second, in developing the art for the platforms, glass plays a prominent role. Lastly, all of these stations have good views of the Minneapolis skyline. The aesthetic is very urban for all of these stations, but each are very distinctive. With that, let’s visit Cedar-Riverside, where curvature and skyline views help shape the aesthetic of the station.

a general look at the Cedar-Riverside station
stylized Stone Arch Bridge
the city clock tower in primary metals

As you can see, the station decor consists of metal sculpture that may just look like stripes at first glance. I know if took me some time to realize what was really going on with the primary-colored stripes. In case you hadn’t figured it out, those stripes are actually stylized depictions of buildings on the skyline. There’s also a carving of the Stone Arch Bridge, which is visible for the residents living on the mid-to-upper level floors of the Cedar-Riverside housing project right next to the station. I’m usually at this station because walking to it from Cedar Avenue shaves ten minutes off my commute to Bloomington (which I’ll discuss as we progress further down the light rail line). Anyway, so after waiting for the train at this station over many months, I found myself examining the stripes. The discovery of the detail work at this station actually inspired me to start looking at the aesthetic quality of the other stations. Let’s take a look closer, shall we?

all red yellow and blue
the Capella Tower in red
IDS Tower with a side of lens flare

(On a side note, the angle of the sun in that last photo makes me think of lens flare, which in turn makes me think of J.J. Abrahms. Couldn’t resist sharing that random tidbit.) Anyway, there’s more to this station than the striped sculpture. Remember what I said about glass earlier. Well, at Cedar-Riverside, you might want to look up *hinthintnudgenugde*

Cepheus on glassPolaris and Ursa Minor
splintered by force but not broken

As you can see in that last photo, thick glass is a requirement at these stations, but it still is replaced fairly frequently due to objects thrown against it and temperature extremes. Sometimes, though, the splintered glass creates cool effects, which I’ll show in a little bit. Why don’t we move onto the Franklin Avenue station? The important thing to keep in mind with this station is it’s the train depot for the Hiawatha Line. Thus, much of the decor will reflect this niche (along with some of the neighborhood’s quirks).

for conductors only
a whole lot of food near the Light Rail!
Franklin Ave curvature
default glass

The Franklin Avenue station was the first to start using what I call MetroTransit issue glass. These panes take symbols of Metro Transit and create a tapestry which emphasizes public transporation. For the most part, I have no problem with it, but there is an exception to this statement, which will be discussed/ranted about at length in the next entry. Anyway, what are these symbols? Here are closeups of the bus, light rail, and North Star symbols found on these panes of glass.

bus symbol
light rail symbol
commuter rail symbol

The last stop on today’s leg of the tour is the Lake Street/Midtown station. This station is very interesting from a design perspective. While not the only elevated platform (Franklin Avenue being the other one), Lake Street is very open and unprotected from the wind. On top of that, it has the highest elevation of any of the platforms, so if something goes wrong up there it’s a real pain to have to handle. Doors get frozen open in the winter up there, and you can’t have much in the way of elaborate artwork because the temperature shifts warp mounting joints faster than you can say “light rail”. Thus, much of the aesthetic value at this station is design-based.

right angles making all the difference
colored glass at the station
more colors in the blown sand
Broken stuff is cool.

That last frame is an example of when broken glass looks really cool. If it wasn’t so hazardous, I’d be totally down with the MetroTransit staff leaving those panels up along the far sides of the platform. I tend to sit on correct side of the train car to see these panels when I head to work in the morning. Quite frankly, I prefer looking at the crystal-esque glass panes over the street view of jaywalkers, littering and Hi-Lake Liquors. On the upside, though, there is a nice thing to look at on the Lake Street platform. Take a look. šŸ™‚

Minneapolis buildings and attractions

From here, the tour will make its way to the working south. When I say working south, I’m talking about some of the more industrial areas of Minneapolis. You wouldn’t think that art would be given much consideration in a commercial/industrial hubbub, but the Hiawatha Line will turn everything you know about working area aesthetics on its head. Stay tuned.


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