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Sparkle+Chime – making magic

Monday, 24 November 2014

What does it take to make magic in a park?

This fall Shepley created Sparkle+Chime, an art installation made up of over 3600 small mirrors and discs suspended from the trees to create dancing patterns of light and delicate chiming. The making of Sparkle+Chime required an all-out office effort led by mostly junior staff, and drew on the diverse experience – from rock climbing to jewelry making – of the core production team. Inspired by a compelling conceptual design from competition winner Jean Kim, we took up the challenge to make his vision a reality. After numerous late night modeling sessions, we settled on a design assembly for the sparkles, sandwiching a fishing line hanger held by a crimp bead between two small mirrors glued together. Through backyard mock-ups, we designed a parachute cord and rock climbing knot system for suspending the installation from the trees. Shepley archivist Rob Roche provided the chimes – metal discs from old office hard drives he had disassembled to find out how they worked.

The components designed, one hurdle remained. How to make enough sparkles to fill the park on time for October?

That’s where the whole office came to our aid. During everyday lunchtime sessions that soon became social highlights of the day, we gathered people from every part of the office – marketing, accounting, IT, administration, leadership, and architecture staff – into a sparkle production assembly line. Through process improvements made everywhere along the line, we rapidly increased our production capabilities, from 150 sparkles made at our first lunch to over 400 at our last.

Stringing up the first chimes and sparkles on a sunny October day, we were instantly rewarded with the delight of curious onlookers as reflections and sound began to filter through the trees. Thanks to almost every hand in the office, a wealth of knowledge, a diversity of experience, and a strong collaborative spirit, we were able to create magic in the park.

- Susannah Cramer-Greenbaum AIA, LEED AP, is an architect with Shepley Bulfinch and a member of the core production team for Sparkle+Chime. She was Shepley Bulfinch’s 2011 Summer Design Fellow.


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