Ned Kahn ‘Shimmer Wall’ to grace Franklin Institute facade

As part of the New Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion, the 53,000 square foot addition set to open June 2014, the "Shimmer Wall" is designed to mirror the sky and make visible the wind and other natural weather elements. Credit: Franklin Institute.
As part of the New Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion, the 53,000-square-foot addition set to open June 2014, the “Shimmer Wall” is designed to mirror the sky and make visible the wind and other natural weather elements.                     Credit: Franklin Institute.

The Franklin Institute can’t help man walk on water, but it can show him the wind.

The institute is sticking a 2,665-square-foot wall to the facade of the new extension to the historical museum.

As part of the New Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion, the 53,000-square-foot addition, set to open June 2014, the “Shimmer Wall” is designed to mirror the sky and make visible the wind and other natural weather elements.

The Wall is a network of 12,500 hinged aluminum flappers that will move in the wind. During the day, the flappers will appear as undulating waves.

“It will reflect the ambient colors of what is around,” said Troy Collins, senior vice president. “So during the day sunlight, the sky, clouds, shadows, trees — however the light falls on the aluminum panels it will literally reflect that as its art.”

At night: “We have a very subtle back light system,” Collins said. “It will be lit from the back, so as the panels move at night it will either reveal or cover the light, thus creating a very different visual at night.”

The wall was designed by renowned environmental artist Ned Kahn, who’s known for making an invisible aspect of nature visible.

“We consider it a piece of art,” Collins said.

The vision for the Institute, conceived in the 1930s, was to stretch the building from Winter Street to Race, and 20th to 21st. It was supposed to fill the entire block.

“When the Great Depression hit, the funds weren’t available to complete the original expansion,” Collins said. “And so what we have here is an opportunity  to realize that vision.”

Where the pavilion is being added is a space along race that was an empty block.

The 53,000-square-foot extension will highlight the close connections between science and art by incorporating a number of spectacular architectural and aesthetic elements, including the Shimmer Wall.

“The integration of Ned Kahn’s art structure as part of our pavilion’s architecture creates a uniquely dynamic palette of limestone, glass, stainless steel and kinetic aluminum panels which will add a signature new facade to the culturally packed Benjamin Franklin Parkway,” said Peter Saylor of SaylorGregg Architects.

When the concept was first developed, Institute staff conceived of a few important rules.

“We wanted to stay true to the historic integrity of the building,” Collins said. “We also wanted to build in a modern feel and highlight Philadelphia as not only the ‘science’ city that it is, but also provide a piece of art that would reflect upon Philadelphia’s reputation as a science city.”

“And we said we could actually do both.”

____________________

Follow Tommy Rowan on Twitter: @tommyrowan

Follow Metro Philadelphia on Twitter: @metrophilly

Follow Metro Philadelphia on Facebook: Metro Philadelphia



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Girl, 10, dies after being pulled from water…

A 10-year-old girl died after being pulled from the waters off Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, police said.

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

Arts

PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.