Chicago Firm Provides Unique Solutions
For Unique Sculpture – Invents New Fastener

  Chicago-based Farrodyne U.S.A. Inc. played a key role in creating the first “shadow mural” in the U.S., recently unveiled at Randolph St. and the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago’s downtown area.

   A shadow mural is a 3-D image formed by dark shapes that cast shadows against a light background. Here, hundreds of 21’ metal strips hang like vertical blinds, except that each strip is a unique shape. Arranged in just the right order, they create an image. The complete work of art, 153’ wide x 33’ high, was commissioned by The Catholic Charities of Chicago and spans their exterior western wall at 126 N. Des Plaines Street.

   Entitled “The Mandatum” (Latin: mandate), this sculpture depicts Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, conveying the biblical teaching to love your brother. He is flanked on the left by Vincent DePaul, a 17th C founder of organized charity in France; and on the right by Frederick Ozanam, 19th C founder of the St. Vincent DePaul Society.

Thin Metal Strips:
Twisting in the Wind?

   The toughest part about this project was figuring out how to achieve both structural and artistic integrity - how to affix hundreds of slender strips to structural panels in the right place, without bending or twisting the strips (Photo 1). Otherwise the image could have been distorted.

   To meet these unique challenges, Catholic Charities asked Farrodyne U.S.A., award-winning specialists in waterjet and design solutions in metal, stone, and glass, to join their team.

Twist No More

   Working alongside the general contractor and other professionals, we provided a variety of solutions and services, such as:

1) Inventing a way to attach the strips to the panels and lock them with a special fastener, for which a patent is now pending;

2) Watercutting most of the components, some 60,000 pounds of metal;

3) Designing and building custom tools for proper spacing and aligning of the strips; and

4) Providing on-site support to the welders, powder coaters, and installers.

Facts and Figures

   In this complex sculpture, the steel beams support the panels, the panels support the slats and the slats create the image. Farrodyne U.S.A. watercut these components, including:

- Thousands of “steps” cut into 202 aluminum slats, each 252” x 6” x ¼” (Photo 2);

- 2,424 slots and 748 mounting holes cut into 84” x 45” x 5/8” aluminum panels (Photo 3); and

- 748 slots cut into 180”-long, ½”-thick steel beams (Photo 4).

Best of Show

   “The Mandatum” presents a variety of viewing experiences. By day, the sun lights up the image. At night the ambient lighting softens it. From close up, one appreciates the crisp cuts in hundreds of slats. From afar, one marvels at how the 153' image changes as you traverse it from north to south or south to north.

   No matter how you look at it, you'll see a unique work of art.



                                          Photo 1



              Photo 2

              Photo 3

                  Photo 4


Copyright © 2004 Farrodyne U.S.A. Inc.  312.226.0772

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