This Appearance Is ____ invites citizens into the space of appearance and disappearance. In the 1950s, Hannah Arendt viewed the public realm as a collaborative process of world-making; that which is seen and heard in common is continually reaffirmed as constituting a “space of appearance.” Today, however, our collective space of appearance is fragmented, as are individual visibilities and perceptions. How can we negotiate our visibilities today?
Located along Washington Street north of 6th Street, the installation is a study in the ability to retreat from and then rejoin the larger world—a test made all the more poignant after more than a year of pandemic restrictions. This Appearance Is ____, the title a homonym for “disappearances”, is a maze of curved walls made of lenticular plastic sheets which create a unique optical condition, effectively blurring the subject from view and allowing them to disappear almost completely within the installation. These surprising optical effects are designed to invite visitors to weave in and out of the structures.. By night, the panels will be illuminated, creating an ethereal ribbon of light creating shadowy and lit figures.
Shepherd and White’s previous public installations explore new ways for children and adults to play. In Columbus they are collaborating with students at Lincoln Elementary School with the hope that their project will co-develop new parameters for a 21st century hide-and-seek.
600 Block of Washington Street
What is now a space currently awaiting redevelopment was previously the A&P grocery store where Columbus residents would shop. More recently this green space has hosted many community activities and events.
Columbus was first planned in 1821 and the first recorded plat of the city reveals a standard grid layout. However, it is worthwhile to consider Washington Street between First and Seventh Streets as a site onto itself. In other words, these six blocks constitute a singular designed object. In Columbus, urban design and planning became a more aesthetic consideration during the early 1960s. In 1961, designer Alexander Girard was contacted to come up with a comprehensive beautification scheme for the storefronts along Washington Street. Girard, who had already designed interiors and textiles for Eero Saarinen’s Irwin Conference Center and Miller House, would end up proposing a 26-color palette and the removal of excessive signs. Other comprehensive plans were proposed for the area, including SOM’s Central Area Plan implemented in 1983. The latest redevelopment project since the 1983 Central Area Master Plan is called Vision 20/20.
Lola Sheppard is a Professor at the School of Architecture, University of Waterloo where she also serves as the Undergraduate Officer, and Mason White is a Professor at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, & Design at the University of Toronto. They both received their Masters of Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design. Lola and Mason are the founding partners at Lateral Office, a highly collaborative design practice based in Toronto, Canada, embracing research-driven processes and experimental work in a team-based setting. Lateral Office is interested in truly unique design challenges that require new thinking and processes. They believe strongly in the synthetic possibilities of architecture, culture, technology, and environment to convert challenges to opportunities. They are joined on this project by team member Kearon Roy Taylor.