Nimbus Installation Coming Soon

NIcollet Mall Nimbus Rendering

In November, Nimbus, a sculpture by artist and architect Tristan Al-Haddad and the last public artwork for the new Nicollet will be installed in the forecourt of Central Library.

Constructed of weathering steel, the open elliptical form cantilevers over the Theater in the Round seating area. At night, Nimbus will cast a halo of light through perforations in its steel skin.

NIcollet Mall Nimbus Rendering at night

NIcollet Mall Nimbus Fabrication at Al-Hadddad studio

In August, Tristan Al-Haddad invited friends, colleagues and arts supporters to his studio and fabrication facility in Atlanta to celebrate as the sculpture neared completion.
(All photos: Phil Jones.)

NIcollet Mall Nimbus Fabrication 5 Tristan Al-Haddad

Al-Haddad explains the design concept and structural principles for Nimbus.

Exploded view detail drawing of Nimbus

Cross-section exploded view of Nimbus shows construction similar to an airline wing. Courtesy Tristan Al-Haddad and Formations Studio.

NIcollet Mall Nimbus Fabrication 2

Visitors standing next to the work, discussing its structural components, give some indication of the 18,000-pound sculpture’s massive scale.

NIcollet Mall Nimbus Fabrication 3

The overall height of the Nimbus is 18-feet to grade, with the eliptical form measuring from 30-feet to 41-feet in diameter, on its outside dimension.

NIcollet Mall Nimbus Fabrication 1

Fabrication Team with Local Flair

The team fabricating the sculpture led by Tristan Al-Haddad is composed of Denise Bailey, Thomas Clarkson, Bennett Crawford, Helena Kang, Tiara Hill, Sean Miller, Miriam Robinson, Jane Thompson and Madison Vail.

Although the sculpture was constructed at Al-Haddad’s studio in Atlanta, the team has a distinctly local flair. Denise Bailey, Senior Instructor in Welding and Metal Fabrication at the Dunwoody Institute led a three-person all-female fabrication contingent from Minneapolis.

Bailey says, “I spoke with the designer, Tristan, on the phone about the project, and twenty minutes later he had convinced me to hop on a plane to Atlanta the following week to check it out. His passion is contagious and familiar. When I got there, I knew that this project was going to be a part of my life.”

NIcollet Mall Nimbus Fabrication 4

Al-Haddad, whose studio often employs designers who are recent graduates, fabricators and artists giving them hands-on experience, asked Bailey if she would like to bring several graduates down to Atlanta to work on the project. Bailey recruited Industrial Engineering Technology student Tiara Hill and Welding and Technology alumnus Jane Thompson and Madison Vail to join her after seeing them thrive while working on a previous art installation.

“This kind of project is exactly what Dunwoody and carrying on a legacy is all about,” Bailey says, and “Nimbus will be one of the most visible sculptures in the City of Minneapolis.”

Read how Dunwoody Welding Fabricates Sculpture for City of Minneapolis.



Tableau – A Native American Mosaic has a New Home in Loring Woods

George Morrison’s Tableau - A Native American Mosaic - being installed between 11th and 12th Street, Minneapolis.

George Morrison’s Tableau – A Native American Mosaic is being installed between 11th and 12th Streets. The handsome paving carpet, one of the historic works returning to the mall, will provide a gracious transition between Nicollet and the Loring Greenway.

The Re-Installation of Tableau – A Native American Mosaic

The granite pavement carpet by acclaimed Minnesota artist George Morrison was originally sited in 1992 at the entrance to the IDS Center where it could be viewed overhead, from the skyway, and up-close while walking on Nicollet. This location, access point for emergency vehicles including heavy fire trucks, challenged the survival of the mosaic. Weight loads combined with winter freeze-thaw conditions caused some of the two-inch thick granite pieces to crack. Salt applied in winter deteriorated the mortar and destroyed the setting bed, loosening the pavers. Several patch jobs began to detract from the mosaic’s appearance.

In 2004, the mosaic was restored and its next location was adjacent to Minneapolis Central Library and a grove of birch trees along the east side of the building. Thought to be a safer place away from heavy vehicular traffic and with only foot traffic, cracking and mortar failure continued to be a problem.

Previous installation of George Morrison’s Tableau - A Native American Mosaic - Minneapolis.

Second location was Minneapolis Central Library, 2004-2016. Photo: Jerry Mathiason.

The design team for Nicollet led by James Corner Field Operations considered several new locations and settled upon the connection with the Loring Greenway between 11th and 12th Streets. This lush landscaped setting would complement the woodland imagery in the mosaic. Tableau would become the centerpiece of an ensemble of curving wood seating walls and planting beds and for the first time, instead of just walking over the mosaic, people could actually take a seat and examine it close-up.

Technical problems had to be solved before the mosaic could be re-installed. After it was removed from Nicollet in 2016, SEH, INC who has worked with the City as Construction Manager throughout the recent public art installations, produced several mock-ups to field test different methods for setting the granite.

Bob Kost, ASLA, Public Art Collections Manager with SEH, INC says the entire technical cross-section composed of pervious concrete, mortar and grout mixtures, and sealant, was field-tested over a two-year period. The mockups were evaluated prior to developing the final drawings and specifications for the re-installation.

Drawing of granite paver setting cross-section courtesy SEH, INC.

Granite paver setting cross-section courtesy SEH, INC.

A pervious concrete base and a modified granular mortar mix for the grout setting bed were selected because they would move water away from underneath the granite pieces; especially important during the freeze-thaw season.

Challenges continued when Yerigan Construction started to prepare the site to install the work in late August. Removing the sidewalk to inset the mosaic, they discovered that not only did it slope eastward to Nicollet but also slightly to the south – the site was a compound grade, sloping in two directions.

Imagine setting over 200 pieces of granite of different shapes, with no more than 1/4” difference in height between pieces in order to meet Americans with Disabilities standards, across a warped plane! Fortunately, the modified granular mortar mix will be flexible enough to accommodate these variations.

Twin Cities Tile and Marble Company, a sub to Yerigan Construction, are particularly skilled in setting Morrison’s mosaic. Master mason Mike Schermerhorn leads the team that includes Henry Kisumu, Jake Nelson, Adam Pettit, Rob Williams and Steve Violet. Mike says that this is the fourth time that they have de-installed or re-installed the artwork! Also on-site daily during re-installation is Kristen Gillette, conservator with Kristin Cheronis, Inc. who restored the granite mosaic.

The installation commenced after the Labor Day weekend. Over the course of the following weeks, I paid several visits to the site and produced a photo essay documenting the re-installation.