Two major players in art and design fabrication are merging into one powerhouse. UAP (Urban Art Projects) announced this week that it is acquiring the near 50-year-old, New York-based Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry. The merger, according to a press release, will give both businesses a stronger geographical foothold and connect them to more artists, architects, designers, and developers. Together, both mainstay institutions have over 70 years of experience with the fabrication of fine arts and architectural projects. UAP, a global firm with 8 satellite offices, helps clients deliver bespoke structural art and design pieces for public and private use. The New York team has recently collaborated with Kohn Pederson Fox on the newly-opened 10 Hudson Yards, the Public Art Fund on the 2017 exhibition Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, as well as SHoP Architects, and the Madison Square Park Conservancy. Polich Tallix, established in 1968, has worked on public art projects with prominent artists like Louise Bourgeois, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, Alexander Calder, and Richard Serra. The company has also worked alongside major architectural studios such as Zaha Hadid Architects, John Portman & Associates, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, and Herzog & de Meuron to produce special art pieces for building projects. UAP’s Group Managing Director Matthew Tobin noted the importance of the acquisition. “UAP’s global reach, collaborative vision, and investment in advanced manufacturing and design robotics,” he said, “combined with Polich Tallix’s unmatched knowledge of traditional manufacturing, makes us a strong, dynamic and highly responsive art and design resource for world-class creatives.” Dick Polich, founder of Polich Tallix, expressed a similar sentiment: “Our greatest asset is the skill of our craftspeople and by joining forces, our firms have boldly expanded our capabilities and expertise.” A previous version of this article said that Polich Tallix's facility would be moving, however, we have since learned that is not the case.
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UAP may not be a household name, but the firm is behind the scenes of many of the biggest projects in public art and architecture. With studios in Brisbane, Shanghai, and New York, UAP works with world-renowned artists and architects like Ai Weiwei, Carsten Höller, and Frank Gehry on highly complicated sculptures and architectural features. Most recently, it manufactured Phillip K. Smith III’s Open Sky with clothing brand COS for Salone del Mobile in Milan. UAP is also overseeing a number of projects in the Hudson Yards mega-development. Started in 1993 by brothers Daniel and Matthew Tobin in Australia, UAP collaborates with artists, architects, developers, and governments to plan and fabricate large-scale projects. However, at their core the Tobins are committed to protecting artists’ voices and maintaining conceptual integrity—dealing with tight deadlines, engineering challenges, and logistical complexities to deliver the creator’s vision in full. In this way, they function as an extension of the artist’s studio, allowing artists to step back from management and go back to doing what they do best: making art. UAP is organized into three sectors: UAP Studio, which produces site-specific artworks and offers curatorial oversight and public art strategy; UAP Factory, which works alongside architects on building projects; and UAP Supply, which offers limited-edition and custom furnishings. While UAP’s business includes working with artists to make their visions materialize, the firm also works with developers and governments to curate and consult on the how, where, and who behind public art. Recently, it has been going even bigger and helping develop master plans and long-term public art strategy for clients such as the Queen’s Wharf in Brisbane. Although handwork, traditional CNC, and cutting-edge fabrication techniques are integral to the practice, UAP is constantly looking for new ways to utilize technology. The team has been introducing virtual reality into its design process and collaborating with manufacturing researchers at Innovative Manufacturing CRC, Queensland University of Technology, and RMIT University to experiment with new robotic manufacturing systems that present a range of new possibilities. With his artist pedigree, founder Daniel has designed monumental projects, including the 197-foot-tall concrete tower Al Fanar (Beacon) in Saudi Arabia (with bureau^proberts) and a National AIDS Monument with the West Hollywood Foundation, to be completed in 2019. It’s this creative sensibility that’s central to UAP. It can help artists because they themselves are no mere fabricators; they’re partners in the creative process with an intimate knowledge of production and a deep investment in creative expression. Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York This past winter’s blockbuster five-borough public exhibition from Ai Weiwei, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, showcased the work of UAP in one of its most memorable sculptures: the 40-foot mirrored cage underneath the Washington Square Arch. Made in collaboration with the Public Art Fund, the arch sculpture was one of two that UAP completed for Ai’s project. The subject of many photographs, the sculpture approached serious topics with levity—juxtaposing a passage with a cage, it troubled the constructed notion of borders and highlighted the different ways they restrict, regulate, and permit the movement of differentiated bodies. Nuage, promenade Miami Working with renowned designers (and another fraternal pair) Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, UAP oversaw the construction of a series of metal and glass canopies in Miami’s design district. Called Nuage, promenade, the pergola is designed to engage with not only the surrounding built environment of Paseo Ponti, but also the natural environment, as native plants will slowly grow around the blue and green structure. SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico UAP worked on every step of the process, from design to fabrication to installation, for an external cladding system for a SHoP Architects expansion to the New Mexico contemporary art space SITE Santa Fe. The layers of folded and perforated aluminum cladding for the two entrances help to unify the extension as a whole and mesh it with the museum and the public space. UAP also worked with SHoP on the interiors of the American Copper Buildings in Manhattan. Wahat Al Karama Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates In 2016, UAP worked with British artist Idris Khan to realize the massive memorial park Wahat Al Karama in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The central monument comprises 31 leaning tablets made of aluminum plates recycled from decommissioned armored vehicles. The tablets are inscribed with the names of service members and poems and quotes from Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. At one end of the park is the Pavilion of Honor, completed with bureau^proberts. Made of 2,800 aluminum panels encircling seven glass panels by Khan, the meditative space is a quiet interior pause that complements the monolithic structure outside.
New York-based artist Mariko Mori’s nearly 30-year career has been defined by her futuristic, alien aesthetic. Her sculptures and spaces investigate our minds and the universe around us—seen and unseen. In this spirit, on display at her second exhibition with Sean Kelly in New York, Invisible Dimension, are seven space-age sculptures, produced using high-tech methods. The show's standouts are Cycloid V and Ekpyrotic String VI, installed on the ground floor. The monumental glass fiber-reinforced polymer and stainless steel sculptures fold into themselves, forming helixes of spaces-within-spaces that pull one in and engage the gallery’s architecture, playing with pillars, angles, and sight lines. The pair of sculptures, 17 feet wide at some points, are inspired by the latest innovations in astrophysics—pulling upon the theory of an “ekpyrotic universe," the notion of an endlessly cycling formation and re-formation of universes. These opalescent sculptures are produced using the most technically advanced methods currently available. In collaboration with UAP, a studio known for its work in public art fabrication as well as architecture, Cycloid V and Ekpyrotic String VI were crafted with a deft combination of hand-shaping, machining, and materials know-how. Also on the ground floor, the smaller acrylic Plasma Stones envelop visitors into the sculptures' own microcosmic environment. Appearing transparent at first, one realizes they are reflective as they pass in front of it. They appear both as physical sculptures—decidedly material—and as ethereal portals—entirely strange. Plasma Stone I and Plasma Stone II act as prisms, dispersing the full spectrum of visible light, and for Mori, they represent an inchoate, formative moment just after the universe’s creation. In the lower gallery are two smaller sculptures, Spirifer I and Spirifer II. Spirifer, a term of the artist’s own coining, refers to a deeply felt yet invisible inner spirit. As the exhibition’s title, Invisible Dimensions, might suggest, these sculptures make visible what remains unseen in nature within Mori’s own mythology. With the exception of the lone three-foot Orbicle I, all the sculptures are displayed in twos, invoking notions of pairing, entanglement, and collisions that lead to new realities—referring, for Mori, to everything from particle physics to human reproduction. The works in Invisible Dimension are part of Mori’s ongoing inquiry into the nature of the universe—an investigation that she has often posed in not only sculptural terms, but through architectural and ecological frameworks as well. Her Dream Temple (1999) was a translucent temple built at Fondazione Prada housing a multimedia installation. Similarly, her Wave UFO (2003) was a compact space housed within a large, iridescent, alien-like lozenge that visitors could enter to see computer graphics generated by their brainwaves. In 2010, Mori founded the Faou Foundation to build site-specific installations that respond to the ecology of every continent (except Antarctica). Syncretizing the scientific and the spiritual, Mori’s artistic and existential project is to build a universe in order to better see our own. Invisible Dimension, Mariko Mori Sean Kelly Gallery 475 10th Avenue, New York, NY On view until April 28
Complementing the transit nature of the tunnel environment, the façade design generates a sense of visual movement and energy for vehicular traffic and passers-by.RPS Group has designed a facade cladding system to Brisbane Australia’s Legacy Way project – a $1.5 billion tunneling project that included the urban and architectural landscape design as well as tunnel portals, ventilation facilities, noise barriers, and roadside landscapes. The project was recently named Australia’s top project at the 2015 National Infrastructure Awards. One key aspect of the design is a facade cladding system developed in collaboration with UAP Factory. The metal bar assembly attaches to the concrete walls and an open facade of the ventilation facility to provide a patterned effect for high-speed vehicular traffic. The digitally sourced pattern is fabricated by twisting steel bars arrayed perpendicular to the viewer. They are selectively twisted to produce momentary thin nodes. These nodes, spread throughout the field of the system, produce a pattern legible at a large scale to high-speed traffic. The assembly is noteworthy for its ability to produce image-like effects with factory-controlled fabrication techniques and conventional installation details. Prefabrication of the panels further added to the economy of the system. “Our aim was to balance Legacy Way’s design and infrastructure components to create an attractive, safe and seamless connection that integrates with local communities,” RPS Landscape Architecture Principal Philip Kleinschmidt explained in a press release. The design team tracked their movements around Australia for one year via GPS, and translated the resulting patterns into a layered graphic patterning system. A base layer of flatbars on edge is fixed back to the building on two horizontal rails. A secondary layer was established by mechanically twisting the flatbar ninety degrees to create undulating fields of solid and void. A tertiary system introduces a ridge detail via triangular fins to create depth change across the facade. These visual effects were then tested through an iterative digital modeling phase. “3d visualization and modeling was used to test pattern applications and understand the overall aesthetic once the system was rolled out en masse,” Amanda Harris, UAP’s Senior Associate and Design Manager, told AN. Harris said that this was a project concerning material properties: “The major constraint was ensuring efficiency of material, investigating and proving up the density (and therefore overall linear meterage) of material required to create the desired visual impact.” Digital models, scale physical models, and eventually larger mockups were produced to allow physical testing of the assembly and to confirm its desired visual effects. Harris said the mockups provided an essential feedback loop: “The twisting process itself was limited by the material, and it was important to understand and avoid twisting radiuses becoming too tight, to avoid causing stress and tearing of the aluminum.”