It’s always nice to revisit a project after some time has passed, and recently I took some time to go back to a project we worked on in the heart of Cambridge Research Park near Kendall Square. Back in April of 2005, NSTAR commissioned Arrowstreet to design a new electrical substation there. The City of Cambridge had a strong desire that the building facade offer something to the street environment, other than bricks. In order to give the building a strong streetscape identity and create some interest for pedestrians, we designed a series of permanent and durable graphic panels. I went by the building last week to check on how the panels and hardware were holding up after five years of New England weather (especially after all of the snow we’re experiencing this winter).
The project was conceived as a visual narrative about the positive aspects of energy, told in seven “chapters.” Phrases support the dynamic nature of energy, while collages of photographs, maps, key words and color blocks engage the viewer. We provided complete design services from story to concept development through final installation.
The panels were fabricated using a high pressure laminate material provided by iZone of Temple, Texas. The product composition is created when specially developed printing papers are digitally imaged, and then impregnated with melamine resins and consolidated at extreme heat and pressure. These panels, in order to achieve the required ½ ‘ thickness, have an additional buildup of phenolic resin impregnated kraft stock which solidifies during pressing. Each of the seven artwork panels consists of 3 pieces tilted together. All panels are attached, via a metal “Z” clip system, with tamperproof fasteners.
I must admit I did expect the panels to be in fairly good shape, but I was surprised to find they are in excellent condition all around. The color and condition of the printed surface is very close to the time it was installed and the areas that might be prone to wear and weather damage are in great condition as well. There were a couple of panels that suffered very minor bowing at the time of installation, and these spots are still there. However they are not any more bowed now than they were in the winter of 2006.