When a fire destroyed a pre-Revolutionary War building in Frederick, Maryland in 2010, the community mourned the loss of history. Today, however, the nearly 300-year-old building is getting a new lease on life thanks to the ambitious Sky Stage art project. Artist Heather Clark collaborated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Digital Structures research group to temporarily transform the burned-and-boarded property into the interactive building-scale public artwork with green roof technology and rainwater harvesting systems.
Located in Frederick’s downtown historic district, Sky Stage is a temporary artwork that uses vegetation and a digitally designed structure to breathe life into the damaged building. The organizers removed the plywood boards that formerly blocked public access to the historic stone building, which has no roof. Artist Heather Clark and MIT’s Digital Structures research group used computer algorithms to engineer a complex two-story-tall wooden lattice that forms the structural base for twisting ribbons covered in drought-resistant plantings. State-of-the-art green roof technology was used to create the spiraling vegetated bands that weave through the building’s open doors and windows.
A timber seating area was constructed next to the two-story structure to form an open-air theatre that accommodates 140 people. Trees integrated into the wooden benches soften the stone background and provide relief from the sun. Rainwater collected from an adjacent roof is stored in a cistern and reused to irrigate the plants and trees. The Frederick Arts Council and AmeriCorps will oversee the day-to-day operations of the theater as well as future creative endeavors for the public including plays, music acts, children’s story time, art classes, dance, history, literature, and film. The Sky Stage will be open through July 2017.
Images via Heather Clark