CARY ARTS CENTER
HARLEQUIN
SCHOOL SPIRITS
THRESHOLD
DRAWING ROOM

2011

Cary Arts Center (renovated from the Cary Old Elementary School building), Cary, NC

The spirits of classes and students past; an entry experience that links the past with the present; and elements that celebrate the creative links between the visual and performing arts, combine to enliven the new Cary Arts Center. Collaborating artists Jim Hirschfield, Sonya Ishii and Norie Sato, fashioned a comprehensive, integrated environment inside and outside Cary's historic school for its transformation. Working from the pre-design phase, they incorporated varied elements to create the total artwork, layering and creating focal points, connections and subtle touches. The exterior glass and steel sculpture for the theater's new fly tower was inspired by the harlequin costume. A monumental 2-sided backlit glass wall extends upward through the lobby's three stories and glows with the spirits of classes past. Large glass classroom doors host historic ceramic frit images. Layered glass murals also enliven the uniquely-designed concession area. Within the theater, the artists created a distinctive curtain to echo the harlequin pattern of the fly tower sculpture, and projected patterns of light in the vomitoria to encircle patrons as they enter and exit the theater. The front plaza’s paving incorporates solar-powered lights creating a magical nighttime environment. Seven stainless steel and wood benches that recall traditional art school drawing horses are grouped to enable an impromptu outdoor drawing class. All together the artwork celebrates the facility's transition from school to art center, evoking the building’s history as a cherished public institution while transforming it into a new and valued arts center.

Commissioned by the Town of Cary, North Carolina