Completed Projects

Carolyn Braaksma

Denver, CO

Northeast Corridor Walls & Bridges

2018


Pitcher Plant Bridge Piers, Old Concord Road Bridge  

Carolyn Braaksma, an accomplished public artist with demonstrated success with multiple other art infrastructure projects, was commissioned to impact 45 concrete retaining walls that cumulatively spans four miles of highly visible surfaces in the 9.6 mile light rail extension. Three different types of walls in variable heights – mechanically stabilized earth (MSE), pile panel and cast-in-place walls –  were constructed by multiple contractors, and Braaksma also enhanced four monumental bridges connecting to the art walls.  


Carolina Chintz, UNC Charlotte Station  

In the spring of 2013, Braaksma spent three months at Charlotte's McColl Center for Visual Art in a CATS-sponsored residency working with the project team and sharing her art with the public and stakeholders during studio visits at the Center.  Early on she visited UNC Charlotte's Botanical Gardens and over time she developed her 17 different designs for the walls based on indigenous North Carolina plant life, including orchids and insectivores.   


 

Leaf Railing, University City Blvd. Bridge  

Subsequently, Braaksma mapped out over 300,000 square feet of wall designs and designed 2, 672 total running feet of her  green Leaf Railing for the Old Concord Road, I-85 Connector, University City Boulevard and the W.T. Harris Boulevard bridges.  She specified a particular green paint color for the girders of each bridge, visually tying them to her art railing. Two of the bridges are supported by her Pitcher Plant Bridge Piers, each pier measuring 25' across and 18' high.


 ​Sarracenia Gingham, W.T. Harris Blvd. Bridge  


​​

Braaksma's wall layouts were also influenced by textile patterns fa​miliar to many Carolinians. She organized her wall designs to maximize efficiency during fabrication and installation and to minimize cost. Her designs often consist of modules with seven (or four) repeated stacks of rectangular panels of rotated images separated by a repeated pilaster design of a Sundew or Pitcher Plant. By rotating the imagery in her panel designs, she further increased the variations of the individual design schemes throughout the many miles of art wall reliefs. In a single 4.5' x 5' panel, a tiny recognizable insectivore like the Venus flytrap is depicted in macro proportions. Her art wall titles capture both her plant and textile references to further intrigue the viewers.


Drosera Gingham, Craighead Bridge

Largest art wall measuring 53' high x 1,120' long


During her Charlotte residency, Carolyn Braaksma made her first full sized prototype of Calico Kudzu, a five-foot-by-five-foot square three-dimensional prototype for a master mold to be used for casting concrete.  For each of her remaining 16 different designs, she spent over a year creating and carving her full-scale models for concrete formliner master molds, ranging in size from 5' square to 20' square. She managed her subcontractor, Scott Systems in Denver, during the production of the 17 masters produced from her prototypes. The masters were ultimately provided to CATS contractors for the production of   formliners and construction of precast and site-cast walls.



Calico Kudzu, North Tryon Street



Charlotte Challis, UNC Charlotte          

Braaksma's cast-in-place Charlotte Challis walls in the tunnel entering and exiting the main campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte are formed from her 20 foot square liners. Her surface reliefs range from 1 ¼” to 3” built in the three separate segments of the northeast corridor over a three year construction period.


Artist Bio

Carolyn Braaksma is a nationally recognized artist with numerous commissions in the public art realm. With a strong design sensibility, her award-winning work often incorporates site-specific imagery and local references to create a special sense of place. Braaksma is especially well known for her public art in the cities of Denver, San Diego, Scottsdale and Charlotte, to name a few. She specializes in integrating public art into large-scale infrastructure projects, using familiar materials and stretching construction processes that are fundamental to the projects. Braaksma earned her B.A. Magna Cum Laude from Metropolitan State College in Denver and did her graduate studies at the University of Minnesota.