Looking Back: Barbican Sculpture
What started as an idea for a waterfall feature in a penthouse suite entryway at the Barbican, turned into this one-of-a-kind, two-story sculpture made with dichroic glass. The sculpture was completed in March, 2014.
Brought in from Germany, dichroic glass is produced by stacking layers of glass and micro-layers of metals. This creates an array of three to four colors displayed through a single layer of glass depending on the angle of view. The team viewed many glass samples before deciding on the dichroic glass. At the time, dichroic glass was very expensive and not commonly used in the U.S. Today, dichroic glass is popping up across the country. The steel that made up the structure was finished with a “Gun Blue” finish. The finish was part of an oil rubbed oxidizing process that protects the steel from rusting while creating an inconsistent, blue tinted finish. The combination of the unique glass and the blue finish gives the sculpture a modern, yet antique look.
Neumann Brothers designed, engineered and built the sculpture through with our in-house design-build subsidiary, DesignBuild Solutions. It was unique and an engineering marvel as it was anchored to both the floor of the penthouse and the building’s roof structure on the 12th floor. To bring the piece to life, our project team had to prove to the property board of directors that the piece was light enough to meet the buildings load requirements; but could also handle the floor-to-floor and roof deflections without breaking the glass, or damaging the buildings structure.
This is one of Des Moines most unique hidden gems. The combination of engineering and aesthetic make this a piece that we are still talking about five years later.