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It’s a BIRD

Along the way to getting a project fully installed we often find an opportunity (or two or three!) that challenges us to really stretch our brains and creativity. Vista Bank brought such occasion, presenting itself in the form of a bird logo, conceived and produced by Red Chair. The bank’s new logo, already highly visible in signage and printed collateral, was performing well as an effective brand standard. As such, we wanted to express it in literal, yet artistic form, within their space.

Etching on glass became our first issue of the Vista bird as art within the environment. This application rendered a subtle use of the motif. In another location the bird art would integrate with copper to create an imaginative sign wall. Both of these uses were expressive and brand-empowering, and still we knew the best was yet to come. Our next focus along these lines would become Vista Bank’s centerpiece and one of their most unique—and strongest—in-bank branding elements.

Soon after the logo was created, Kirk McLaughlin, President and CEO, began to imagine how it might somehow be converted, enlarged and suspended in a large dome. As such, architecture of the building was designed to allow for an expansive domed rotunda as a primary feature. Within this dome we would eventually install the Vista bird as a centerpiece.

To make this happen, we worked with T W Designs to design and fabricate Vista’s bird logo as a 3-dimensional piece of art. An opportunity presented itself early in the process: The client wanted to maintain the simple, effective artistry of the flat logo as much as possible. To take the bird into a fuller, rounded 3-dimensional format would be simplest. Our client’s desire to maintain true to the logo eventually led us to consider the art as flat pieces of metal, slightly bowed.

Soon drawings were cycling back and forth between our studio and T W Designs. Once general construction elements were set, we then had to determine size and finishes, whether or not to build the unit as a single piece, and hanging mechanics. For sizing, T W Designs used 3-D graphics software to suspend the bird in order to look at it from all angles. Studio West made the final call on finishes, opting for stainless and dark bronze. Our vision was to create only a slight difference between finishes in order to convey the bird art as subtle elegance and completely un-flashy. We collectively determined to build the bird and its wing as two separate pieces, suspecting that the slight motion created through suspension would add magic to the experience.

The Vista bird art arrived at the site in a single large crate to much anticipation. We spent the best part of a day working with Pharr & Company to get the bird up and positioned just so. During the course of that day we reconsidered many times our logic in creating the art as two separate pieces. The bird was heavy, its shapes awkward, and much about the installation was happening at 20 plus feet above ground level. The sheer math of calculating multiple suspension points within the domed structure was eye-crossing!

Significant beauty of the piece is how it’s viewed … from the street, at the exterior entry, and within the rotunda. To study these views we literally had crew elevate the bird on a pulley while we walked around and in the bank, and then drove back and forth in vehicles to study the dome. In order to view the bird as a motorist, the artwork was getting far away from lobby guests and thus, diminished the experience. We ultimately agreed the pedestrian experience necessarily trumped that of passing motorists, so we lowered the bird within the dome to reflect that decision.

We discovered when viewing the suspended bird late one afternoon that we’d inadvertently created another interpretation of the logo as art. With the west sun setting there, high up on an east rotunda wall, the bird’s reflection served as final coda to our artistic endeavors. Truly remarkable!

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