Ed Carpenter’s hanging sculpture Radius has been installed over the Memorial Day weekend, in the lobby of the Justice Center. [photo] Four out-of-town architects who designed the center were outside taking photos. They’d dropped by to look at the building while passing through town.
Ceiling in the southwest corner of the Justice Center lobby has been prepped for Ed Carpenter’s hanging sculpture, which will be installed over Memorial Day weekend. [photo]
Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Dec. 19, 2012): Just over two weeks after the Ann Arbor city council voted to halt spending on the Percent for Art program, public art commissioners held their regular monthly meeting and discussed implications of that council decision. The moratorium on spending lasts until April 1, 2013.
Marsha Chamberlin, AAPAC’s chair, briefed commissioners on a Dec. 11 meeting of the city council committee that will be making recommendations on the future of Ann Arbor’s public art program. The committee’s work comes in the wake of a failed public art millage that voters rejected on Nov. 6. That committee includes councilmember Sabra Briere, who attended AAPAC’s Dec. 19 meeting as well.
At the meeting, Briere participated in a discussion with commissioners about the source of funding for a hanging sculpture to be installed in the lobby of the Justice Center. AAPAC and city councilmembers have been under the impression that the $150,000 project – called “Radius,” by Ed Carpenter – was part of the city’s Percent for Art budget. However, it now seems that’s not the case, based on communications from the city’s chief financial officer. The news stunned commissioners, who noted that the project appears in the budget summaries they regularly receive – including one provided in the Dec. 19 meeting packet – as a line item, under “Court/PD Facility.” [.pdf of December 2012 budget summary]
By way of background, during the May 7, 2012 city council meeting when the Radius project was ultimately approved, councilmembers debated the issue for about an hour. Specifically, Jane Lumm (Ward 2) had proposed an amendment that would have canceled Carpenter’s project and appropriated the art project funds to investments in the city hall building. Her amendment failed, with several councilmembers – and assistant city attorney Mary Fales – arguing that the public art ordinance prohibits the transfer of public art funds to other funds.
A new, different understanding that seems to have emerged is the following: The money for public art in the Justice Center building budget was not set aside as an application of the public art ordinance, but rather was set aside administratively – in February 2009, well after the building fund had been established. The building fund had been established prior to 2007, when the public art ordinance was enacted. So the 2009 set-aside was made in the spirit of the 2007 public art ordinance, applied in some sense retroactively. In a phone interview, Briere told The Chronicle that this is the understanding she has of the situation. And in response to an emailed query from The Chronicle, Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) – who also serves on the council’s public art review committee – confirmed he had the same understanding. That understanding has implications for use of the balance of the $250,000 that was set aside for Justice Center art.
In other action at the Dec. 19 meeting, commissioner John Kotarski expressed concern about AAPAC’s task force process, after attending a recent session for the East Stadium bridges project. He didn’t feel the task force is getting sufficient administrative support as it works to select up to five finalists from a set of 36 submissions. To help, he proposed allocating $5,000 to hire a consultant who would serve as a curator to conduct an initial vetting of the artists. The suggestion did not gain much traction among other commissioners, at least for this project, though the idea of a facilitator seemed well-received.
Kotarski updated commissioners on a course that Roland Graf, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Art & Design, will be teaching this coming semester called “Public Art and Urban Intervention.” Graf intends to make assignments related to public art in Ann Arbor and on the UM campus, and it’s expected that students will eventually make presentations of their projects to AAPAC.
Kotarski also was the catalyst for a review of AAPAC’s long-term strategic plan for fiscal 2013-2016, prompting commissioners to identify the status of each objective. Several objectives are on hold, pending the outcome of the city council’s review of the overall Percent for Art program.
The council’s pending action also has resulted in some uncertainty regarding AAPAC appointments. Terms for Cathy Gendron and Connie Brown expire on Dec. 31, 2012. They’ve agreed to continue serving until the council makes a decision about the Percent for Art program. The vacancy left by the resignation of Theresa Reid in November remains unfilled. Nominations to AAPAC are made by the mayor and confirmed by city council.
The balance between access and security at the city’s newly constructed Justice Center was part of the agenda for a July 16, 2012 meeting of the Ann Arbor city council’s building committee.
At the meeting, held in the hour before the regular city council meeting at 7 p.m., committee members were briefed on different options for modifying security at the building to improve public access. Currently, visitors to the Justice Center go through a security checkpoint very near the entrance to the building, off the Huron Street plaza. The building houses the 15th District Court as well as the city’s police department.
Among the options committee members were presented is the possible relocation of the airport-style screening station to a position closer to the elevators, on the Fifth Avenue side of the building. Estimated cost for the different options ranges from $30,000 to $225,000.
The work of generating different options came in the wake of concern by some city councilmembers about adequate access to a piece of art they had approved for purchase and installation in the lobby. Councilmembers weren’t content that visitors who wished merely to view the art would have to undergo security screening, and were skeptical that the art would be adequately visible from outside the building through the horizontal bands of etched glass on the Justice Center windows.
That piece of art is a suspended sculpture called “Radius,” by Ed Carpenter. It’s funded through the city’s Percent for Art public art program. Part of the council’s discussion on the artwork back in early May had included a desire to look at options for relocating the security screening checkpoint – and there was an indication that the council’s building committee would convene a meeting to address that possibility. For some councilmembers, there’s a desire to see better public access to the Justice Center lobby independent of the installation of public art there.
At the council’s July 2, 2012 meeting, Jane Lumm (Ward 2) had inquired about the status of the building committee’s meeting. She’d been told by city administrator Steve Powers that the security screening was on the committee’s July 16 agenda.
The committee did not deliberate in depth on the different options – partly because the final invoices and costs for the municipal center building project aren’t final, so it’s not clear if money might remain in the project budget to handle alterations of the security screening station. [The municipal center refers to the Justice Center and adjacent city hall.] Any change to the current security configuration would first be recommended to the full city council by its building committee, with necessary expenditures approved by the city council before implementation by the city administrator.
Councilmembers who attended the July 16 committee meeting included Sandi Smith (Ward 1), Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Margie Teall (Ward 4), and mayor John Hieftje. Staff included city administrator Steve Powers, facilities service unit manager Matt Kulhanek, chief of police John Seto, and CFO Tom Crawford.
After the jump, this article includes more detail on the different security configuration options and the cost breakdown.
At its July 2, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council approved a contract with the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office that will cost $187,000 annually to provide weapons screening services for the 15th District Court, located inside the city’s new justice center building at the corner of Fifth and Huron.
The contract pays $25.25 per hour per officer, with the number of officers estimated to be roughly three each day. Currently, the weapons screening takes place at metal detectors at the entrance to the building.
The city council engaged in lengthy deliberations at its April 2, 2012 meeting about the placement of the security check. The context of those deliberations was a vote on the acquisition of Ed Carpenter’s proposed “Radius” sculpture, at a cost …
Ann Arbor city council meeting (May 7, 2012) Part 2: Public art was one of two highlighted themes of the council meeting, along with possible future additions to the park system. The future additions to public parks and open space are handled in Part 1 of this meeting report: “Council Parcels Out Tasks: Open Space.”
Public art was featured in two specific agenda items. One was a presentation of the annual public art plan given by Wiltrud Simbuerger, a member of the city’s public art commission. The council gave the presentation a basically positive reception.
But the second agenda item required a vote – on a $150,000 piece of art proposed by Ed Carpenter, to be hung in the lobby of the new Justice Center. The city’s public art commission had selected Carpenter from responses to a request for proposals. A vote on the artwork, a piece called “Radius,” had been postponed from the council’s April 2, 2012 meeting over concerns about public access to the Justice Center lobby, where the sculpture will be hung.
A nearly one-hour debate unfolded about the Carpenter piece, with the specific artwork serving as a kind of proxy for a rehash of previous council debates on the city’s Percent for Art ordinance. The ordinance requires that all city capital improvement projects include 1% for public art, up to a cap of $250,000 per capital project. For capital projects that aren’t suitable to have public art incorporated into them, the 1% is “pooled” for use in some other public art – which must be related to the purpose of the funding source. For example, the fountain outside the new Justice Center, designed by German artist Herbert Dreiseitl, is funded with money pooled from 1% of some sanitary sewer projects, drinking water projects, and stormwater management projects.
Jane Lumm (Ward 2) proposed an amendment that would have canceled Carpenter’s project and appropriated the art project funds to invest instead in the city hall building. That amendment failed, but piqued mayor John Hieftje into announcing that he’d be sponsoring a future resolution to take $50,000 from public art funds, and deposit that amount into the general fund. That move is susceptible to the same critique made by several councilmembers as well as the assistant city attorney against Lumm’s amendment: The public art ordinance prohibits transfer from public art funds to other funds. Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) stated that he would be content for the council simply to violate that ordinance. Carpenter’s sculpture eventually was approved over the dissent of Kunselman and Lumm.
Besides public art, the council approved the city’s portion of the State/Ellsworth traffic roundabout project, which includes an improvement for a water main connection – to pipe water from a well on the property of Ann Arbor’s municipal airport to the city’s water treatment plant. The airport also made it onto the agenda in the form of a resolution that settled outstanding legal issues surrounding the construction of hangars on the property.
Prompting extended discussion by the council was a resolution that invalidates sidewalk occupancy permits for vendors in a specific area around Main Street between Huron and William, whenever Main Street is closed down for special events.
The council delayed action on a tax abatement for the battery technology company Sakti3, pending review by the city council’s budget committee. And the council authorized another five-year extension of its contract with Waste Management to haul the city’s trash to a landfill.
The council also heard its usual range of public commentary. The public hearing on the fiscal year 2013 budget enjoyed light participation. The council will vote on that budget, and any amendments, at its May 21 meeting.
At its May 7, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council approved the use of $150,000 for a public art project in the lobby of the new municipal building called the Justice Center – located on the northeast corner of Huron Street and Fifth Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor. The money will pay for a sculpture called “Radius” by Ed Carpenter of Portland, Oregon. The resolution passed over dissent from Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3).
The Justice Center, a new building next to city hall, houses the 15th District Court and the Ann Arbor police department. Previously council had postponed the approval of public art funds at its April 2, 2012 meeting.
Because it houses the district court, the building features …
At its April 2, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council postponed a vote on the use of $150,000 for a public art project in the lobby of the new municipal building called the Justice Center, located on the northeast corner of Huron Street and Fifth Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor. The Justice Center, a new building next to city hall, houses the 15th District Court and the Ann Arbor police department. The postponement will be for one month, until the council’s first meeting in May – May 7.
Because it houses the district court, the building features airport-style security measures at the entrance, and visitors must surrender electronic devices like cameras and cellphones to be locked in cubicles during their visit …