DTR’s Pieces of Flare: The Shimmer Wall

News is slow but conversation never dies. With that, I wanted to dig up an old post that talks about the shimmer wall that is going to be put on the west side of the convention center. For all the juicy details, click here. The wall will cover about 9,000 sq. ft. which is quite large. Here are some renderings and recent pictures of the shimmer wall skeleton.

Right now there are no towers blocking the view when you are driving up South Saunders St. or looking from Dorothea Dix campus. The dancing lights will add some flare to the Raleigh skyline.

Raleigh Wide Open III on Sept. 5-6

RWO III has been announced and it all revolves around the opening of the new Raleigh Convention Center. Clear your calendars for a two-day party on September 5th and 6th. This new info comes from a news conference held this morning which the N&O has covered.

RALEIGH – A two-day downtown celebration Sept. 5 and 6 will mark the opening of Raleigh’s new convention center, officials said today.

At a news conference this morning, Mayor Charles Meeker and Wake commissioners’ chairman Joe Bryan announced plans for a street festival to be called “Raleigh Wide Open III” and an indoor “showcase extravaganza.” They expect 100,000 people to attend.

The events start with a ribbon-cutting at noon Friday, Sept. 5. The celebration will run from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. that day and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6.

City Plaza Will Not Be Ready For Convention Center Opening

I sent off a couple e-mails about the current state of the City Plaza project. I thought it was a no-brainer that getting this plaza done at the same time as the opening of the Raleigh Convention Center and Marriot Hotel was important. The response I got was not so pleasant.

Thanks for your inquiry. In the City Plaza, we are completing the negotiation of the easement with the owners of the Bank of America building – this should get us ready for a full funding, design approval and authorization to proceed at the last Council meeting in March or the first of April, Which completes construction in May of 2009. I have enclosed a rendering. Thanks

Daniel T. Douglas AICP
Division Manager
Raleigh Urban Design Center & Communications Group
Department of City Planning

By the way, the attached rendering has already been posted on the city’s website. Here are more for your viewing pleasure.

The convention center and hotel will be open September of this year. It looks like we’ll have a nice construction site in the middle of Fayetteville St. for eight months after this. Before you start getting all upset like I did, you may need to think consider some other factors.

The perfect scenario would have been for the plaza to be ready for all the new visitors, and current residents, to see and enjoy. It can be argued that first impressions are important and getting this thing done on time should have been something to fight for. But honestly, this is only eight months and we have booked some conventions through 2020. Fayetteville St. is not the only district downtown. There are plenty of other areas that will be ready to serve visitors in the mean time. It is also important to note that this is out of the city’s hands as the owners of One Hannover (BoA building) are the major player in this little project.

It is unfortunate that we have to wait even longer to do a drive or walk from one end of Fayetteville St. to the other. I would have preferred it to be ready for the September opening, but if eight more months is needed then I’ll deal with it.

Convention Center Opening Date?

This may or may not be news to you but it is to me. I was not aware of an official opening date for the new convention center but it is posted on the Raleigh Convention website, shown in the pic above. Here are some details from the webpage.

Come September, be the center of attention at the new Raleigh Convention Center. Join tens of thousands of your friends and neighbors at the Raleigh Convention Center Grand Opening.

Just what are we celebrating? First, the new 500,000-square-foot convention center will be a state-of-the-art stunner. It will bring people from near and far to Raleigh where they’ll discover a dynamic downtown surrounding a rare array of convention attractions – the new center, the new Marriott City Center, the Sheraton Raleigh and the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

It looks like we have about 8 months to go. Click here for the rest.

Click here for old news on convention center bookings.

Shimmer wall details

Here is some more information on the shimmer wall of the convention center, that was mentioned earlier here.

There is no entrance to the Raleigh Convention Center from the western side. The wall houses the 500,000-square-foot facility’s chillers and boilers that require significant air flow. Yet the wall facing McDowell Street is the most visible as motorists enter downtown Raleigh. Some 20,000 vehicles arrive downtown via the thoroughfare each day. Even those not destined for the center city are offered downtown’s most inviting vista as they motor east and west along Western Boulevard.

The convention center’s design team of TVS, O’Brien Atkins and Clearscapes saw the wall as a canvas yearning for artwork that defined the essence of Raleigh.
“The design team wanted to do something that would add visually to downtown,” Clearscapes’ Stephen Shuster said.

In addition to the wall’s visibility, it also benefits from spectacular southern and western sunlight.

So what would make maximum use of this visibility and light?
Shimmer wall thought the design team; the ultimate coupling of these two natural elements.

“To gleam; to shine with an unsteady light; to glimmer” is the definition of shimmer. So how to make a wall do that? The design team, working with artistic inventor Ned Kahn, decided to put 79,464 4-inch by 4-inch aluminum pixels hinged on louvers to allow for free motion on 4-foot by 4-foot grids. The design is 211-feet by 44-feet. To aid nighttime “shimmering,” backlight the 9,284-square-foot wall with 56 LED fixtures.

But not just a shimmer wall, the design team demanded. Rather a shimmer wall that offered an iconic image of our city. The oak tree, the design team exclaimed.
The oak tree – the symbol borne on the Great Seal of the City of Raleigh; Raleigh’s unofficial tag line – the “City of Oaks.” But the oak tree for oh so much more.
“We wanted an image that could be understood and appreciated by all – children and techies,” Mr. Shuster said. “A tree is a complex system. It symbolizes growth. It symbolizes the environment.”

At rest the almost 80,000 4-inch by 4-inch pixels will offer a clear depiction of a mighty oak in shades of silver. And yet this oak tree will be ever changing. The flow from the boilers and chillers; the natural breeze, the whoosh of the stream of cars along McDowell will keep the image at flux. As will the shifting slant of sun rays. Adding further to the uniqueness of this shimmer wall will be the back lighting from Cree’s LEDs. And the LED colors will vary, depending on the season, the celebration – whenever and whatever!

Lot more can be read here.

Shimmer wall to distract drivers; entertain the kiddies

The city has announced a $1 million donation from Cree Inc. that will go toward a shimmer wall on the western side of the new convention center. This is the wall that overlooks McDowell St. and is certain to be very eye-catching as people drive by. The wall will be substantially large and at 9,000 square feet, should easily draw a crowd. Once it is done you can probably find me stumbling over from the warehouse district on Saturday nights to stare at it like a mesmerized fish.

Watch the WRAL video for a great visual of the design.

N&O story