Cleveland Institute of Art Transparent Media Facade Creates Platform For Student Creativity

October 20, 2015 | Case Histories

 Project Name:  Cleveland Institute of Art 
 Location:   Cleveland, Ohio
 Architect:  Stantec
 General Contraction Manager:  PCS Construction
 Metal Fabrics:   V4 H5.0 Mediamesh

Founded in 1882 as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women, the university was renamed the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1949, and is now one of America's leading art and design academies. In a complex expansion project spanning two years, the George Gund building was adjoined to the Joseph McCullough Center for the Visual Arts and now forms a single entity. A large Mediamesh® screen on the façade of the new building grabs the attention of art enthusiasts and passers-by, even from great distances.

The university, working closely with the architects at Stantec, sought a contemporary form of digital media to display graphics, photos and video sequences created by students. The Mediamesh® transparent media façade provided unhindered views of the outside surroundings from the building's interior. Moreover, it allows daylight to enter the university, thus sustainably making the building a pleasant environment for students and teaching staff alike.

Cleveland Institute Of Art, Ohio, GKD Mediamesh Display, Stantec

One of the biggest challenges of the project was installing the Mediamesh® display while school was in session. Coincidently it was finals week for students so GKD’s installation team worked around their testing schedule. Additionally challenging was the project’s site, located on an active roadway just next to the installation created limited site access and a small working area. GKD was able to install the material without damaging the product or disrupting the students.

According to Mike Leonard, GKD’s Technical Director for Mediamesh®, “The material was shipped on site as needed, so no site storage was required, this was essential when working within a limited access site. We also worked off hours to avoid student-testing times. Our goal was to install the material with minimal disruption to the students and faculty.” Mike Leonard is responsible for the oversight of every domestic GKD Mediamesh® project from designing, fabrication and installation. In addition to the Mediamesh® display, GKD manufactured and installed the steel framework that supported the fabric as well as the electrical wiring.

Cleveland Institute Of Art, Ohio, GKD Mediamesh Display, Stantec

One of the most interesting elements of the display was the engineering challenge faced when installing the display on a movable building. The building was originally a Ford assembly plant until purchased by the Institute in 1981. The building features movable floor slabs that once allowed the Ford model T’s to be accessed to the train tracks behind the structure. With the building’s movable features, the display is supported by top anchors and let the building retain its original/signature style. The engineers overcame the challenge by creating dead load anchors to the top of the building, which hold the weight of the display.

Leonard further states GKD was chosen, “…due to the transparent nature of Mediamesh® since it was going to be used over glazing. As the building evolved, a large portion of the glazing was removed, but CIA loved the artistic qualities of Mediamesh® and felt it was perfect for the application. The majority of the content that will be displayed will be related directly to CIA events and the artwork of CIA students and alumni.“

The building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Mediamesh® at the Cleveland Institute of Art from GKD on Vimeo.

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