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Jaume Plensa art installation planned for DPAC?

Jaumeplensaportrait BCR Exclusive: World-renowned artist Jaume Plensa might just to be on the way to Durham, just over two years after Raleigh rejected a planned donation by Capitol Broadcasting chief Jim Goodmon that would have led the Spanish artist to design a signature plaza on the City of Oaks' redesigned Fayetteville St.

Or at least that's what a very recent, and very curiously titled, building permit application would lead us here at BCR to believe. The permit, filed with the City on October 8, is listed under the intriguing name "Plensa Vault." The permit is one of a total of five filed for Vivian St., site of the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Goodmon -- whose firm also owns the American Tobacco Campus and the Durham Bulls -- offered $2.5 million to Raleigh to install an ambitious plaza in the heart of Raleigh's downtown. Plensa withdrew his participation, and Goodmon his money, when Raleigh leaders expressed concern at the design.

Feature_plensa_1 Chief among them: by creating a public square rather than a straight-through street, the plaza would have hindered automobile traffic and would have interrupted sight lines in the capitol.

The Raleigh plan called for 30-foot high lights and water features. Spanish-born Plensa is no stranger to water, having created the acclaimed Crown Fountain in Chicago.

Plensa's biography at Chicago's Millenium Park web site notes that the artist, who currently splits time between Barcelona and Paris, is best known for "numerous outdoor projects and commissions for public spaces" in cities throughout Europe and Asia. His other American projects include six translucent, illuminated statues in a renovated plaza in downtown Jacksonville, Fla., and work in Washington, D.C.

Skanska USA, the general contractor for the DPAC itself, is listed as the general contractor on this project, whose owner is the City of Durham. Bryant Durham Electrical, ABL & Associates Plumbing, and Baker Mechanical are key subcontractors on the permit.

The initial filing was disapproved by plumbing on what we would assume are technical grounds. No word yet on the design itself or what's planned for the installation, or just how ambitious this project might be in comparison with the defunct Raleigh plans.

The construction cost listed is relatively small, at $107,996 -- but with "concrete and excavation" comprising almost half of the cost, and with the term "vault" in the name, one must wonder if something subterranean is at play here.

Nothing in the building permit confirms whether Goodmon has his stamp on this or not, though given the Raleigh media exec's ties to the artist (Goodmon recently donated three Plensa statues to the renovated N.C. Museum of Art in the state capitol) it's certainly not outside the realm of possibility.


Durham Bull Pen

Wow, I think it would be great to have a Plensa installation in Durham. I love his interactive installation at Millennium Park in Chicago--the Crown Fountain. It's wonderful.



I heard the same thing, about a month ago, from one of the downtown movers and shakers. Not exactly hard confirmation, but definitely corroboration. What delicious fun--in your eye, Raleigh!


This is great news! Plus, it's especially fitting for Goodmon, and Durham as the anti-Raleigh, to be supportive of Plensa's work after such an embarrasing road block.

I've always liked the idea of dancing waterworks like the Bellagio. How about a modern take on the Buckingham Fountain in Chicago's Grant Park, with Bulls instead of bronze seahorses? Water shouldn't be a problem, now that we have extra water to take out of Teer quarry. Of course, Plensa should plan on using "OUR" Cree LEDs in anything he comes up with.

Shane Hudson

Fantastic! I'm so excited that this might be a possibility! Yeah Durham!

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