Composite structures along Orlando’s International Drive
Artist Walter Geiger recently designed functional sculptures to inspire Orlando citizens in his composite outdoor bus stop shelters. His collection, named the Cascade series, was installed in September 2011 after three years of development. Geiger wanted to put art in a public space and bring FRP composites into the limelight of a new market – art and architecture.
An engineer, architect and sculptor, Geiger earned his master’s degrees in Architecture and Landscape Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and is a member of the American Institute of Architects and a fellow of the Society of American Registered Architects. In his projects, he applied three philosophies: People who prosper in communities should give back to the community, those who cannot afford art are the ones who deserve it most and through collaboration, engineers, architects and artists can move processes and materials from one industry into another.
Prospering in communities
In 2008, Geiger attended a benefit gala with his wife, Anne, a former Orange County school board member, where he met Linda Watson, the former executive director of LYNX (the central Florida regional transportation authority.) The two spoke about implementing art in public spaces, which Watson could provide in the form of bus stop shelters along popular Orlando routes. LYNX funded the project to build four bus stop shelters with art transit initiative funding and Geiger connected with engineering firm Entech Creative, Orlando, to use technology the engineering firm was developing for use in theme parks.
Geiger spent over 15 years working with Entech Creative Chief Engineer John Marhoefer building large composite structures at major theme parks like Universal Studios and Disney World. After working with Marhoefer on a recent theme park project, he was intrigued by the process of forming composites into organic shapes where form and function come together. Geiger draws inspiration from natural forms and felt that the free flowing composite lamination process fit his vision for the nature-inspired sculptures. “The natural forms represent free-flowing waterfalls,” says Geiger. “The use of composites allowed us to maintain the pure integrity of the shapes.”
Art for those who need it
The sculptures were strategically installed where tourists and workers in the tourism industry could see the art. “I don’t want my sculptures in galleries; I want them on the living, breathing streets. Central Florida is a huge tourist destination and thousands of people traverse it daily to see attractions and work in the service industry. That’s where people who deserve the art can see it,” says Geiger. The bus stops reinforce the surrounding landscape using artistic techniques that keep it from competing with the surrounding buildings. For example, using the color white and curvilinear forms to enhance the buildings and integrate with the landscape.