CTA Hires Internationally Acclaimed Artist to Create Artwork for New Wilson Station

July 16, 2014

Agency to hire artist Cecil Balmond for $203 million Wilson project that will begin this fall; Commissioned artwork latest addition agency’s growing collection of public art

As part of the upcoming $203 million Wilson Station Reconstruction Project, the Chicago Transit Board today approved the award of a contract to internationally acclaimed artist, designer and engineer Cecil Balmond to create a new, original public artwork for the station.

Reconstruction of the Wilson station will begin this fall and the artwork work will be installed after the station project is completed. The Wilson reconstruction project will construct a modern, more spacious and accessible stationhouse with three entrances. It will also relocate and reconstruct 2,200 feet of century-old elevated tracks, signals and supporting infrastructure, and make the station a new transfer point between the Red and Purple Express rail lines.

As part of the historic level of investment under way or planned for CTA rail stations including Wilson, Mayor Emanuel and the CTA have announced plans for the installation of more than $3 million in new public art for upgraded stations.  

“Mayor Emanuel and I believe in the long-term value of public art at CTA’s rail stations, which enhances the quality of our customers’ transit experience and enriches  and reflects the rich character of the surrounding neighborhoods,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “We’re pleased to select an artist of Mr. Balmond’s caliber to create artwork for what is one of the largest ‘L’ station construction projects in the agency’s history.”

The CTA has a growing collection of more than 50 works of art by local, national and international artists, which are currently installed at 41 stations along its eight rail lines. With artwork planned for Wilson and other stations, an additional 21 new works of art will be installed in the coming years -- including two installations by Chicago-based and internationally renowned artist Theaster Gates at the new 95th Street Terminal. Construction of the new terminal will also begin this fall.

Mr. Balmond, who is Sri Lankan-born and resides in London, is known for his large-scale public art installations around the world. He was selected from a pool of more than 200 artist submissions for his artistic merit and qualifications.  He has been a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Architecture, Yale University and a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics. His past projects include the design of Weave Bridge for the University of Pennsylvania, Ito-Balmond Serpentine Pavilion in London, ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower (with artist Anish Kapoor) for the London Olympics and the CCTV Tower (with architect Rem Koolhaus). His current project is the Gretna Landmark, an architectural-scale illuminated sculpture that marks the Scottish and English border crossing.

As part of CTA’s public art program, a public meeting will be held at a future date to provide community members an opportunity to meet the artist and provide feedback on the type of artwork that will be developed for the Wilson station.

Funding is provided by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and will cover the entire project budget, which is not to exceed $204,000, and includes costs associated with artist fees, fabrication, shipping/delivery, administrative fees and a project contingency fund.

For more information about the Wilson station project, visit https://www.transitchicago.com/wilson. For more about the artist, visit http://balmondstudio.com.


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