The Century Walk Corporation

Parking deck artwork, construction, on schedule

November 2, 2001 — Source: Naperville Sun, The (IL) — Author: Meg Dedolph

As crews in hard hats and scuffed boots work with paint and cement, artists are making another part of the Van Buren Avenue parking garage take shape in glass and lead.

Stained glass artists at Sheri Law Art Glass in Lockport are working three days a week on a group of glass panels that will be hung on the parking deck.

The 12 panels depict the history of the automobile and combine stained glass work with etching and sandblasting to show the cars' details.

They will be installed on the five-story, 530-space garage before its planned Nov. 15 opening, said Bob Kozurek, a city construction engineering manager.

Construction of the garage is on schedule, Kozurek said.

"The contractor and all the subcontractors on the project are working toward that goal," he said.

"They're painting the interior, working on the installation of the elevators, finishing up some plumbing details and putting in the ground floor slab, the driving surface on the lowest level."

Although the stained glass company has tackled larger pieces for churches, the parking deck art -- part of the Century Walk -- has its own challenges, according to the designers and artists.

"The biggest challenge was the drawing," said Dorothea Somerville, who redrew the panels at actual size, enlarging them from the small original drawings, to create the stained-glass pattern.

"It's 12 panels, but one idea," she said.

"When you're doing something that's right in front of you, you have to think about what it will look like yards and yards away."

The process began in February, when designer Vandna Chandra met with representatives of the Century Walk program.

"They said the board didn't want it to look like a parking garage because they got a lot of flak on the first one," Chandra said.

She had been thinking about the project, and eventually pitched an idea to the board.

"I said, `I have one concept and I don't know if you'd like it or not, but because we just finished one century and are beginning another, and this is a parking lot, what about "cars of the century"?'" she said.

She and the artists chose a Model T Ford to represent the first 25 years, a car with a rumble seat to represent the period from 1925 to 1950 and a Vista Cruiser for the period from 1950 to 1975, when women became more active outside the home, Chandra said.

A Corvette completes the piece of artwork, which shows the four vehicles traveling a winding road.

"We got the car drawings from photos," she said.

"None of us are from those eras and we didn't know what they looked like, so we had to research."

With the drawings approved, Chandra and one of the artists chose all of the glass that was used in the project.

"Each and every piece," she said.

"Even the flowers and the centers of flowers.

I took it to the committee; I couldn't imagine them meeting here, because 15 minds will never meet.

They loved the glass."

Fabrication began in August.

"It's just gorgeous," Chandra said.

"I look at it and I could cry."

As the panels progressed, the company's artists used the full-size drawings to create Mylar patterns and cut the glass pieces.

"It isn't like a flower where you can fudge it," said Marge Masenis, who cut most of the panels' thousand-plus pieces.

"When you're going around a headlight, you can't fudge it."

Other people took turns grinding the pieces to fit precisely against one another, fitting the strips of lead came in between the pieces and soldering the joints.

"The thinking's done, and the pattern work's done, so this is the dirty, bleeding-cuts, nitty-gritty part of it," Somerville said.

It's that nitty-gritty work that defines stained glass, Chandra said.

"Whenever someone sees stained glass, it's the fabrication, all the artists' love and labor that goes into it," she said.

"The cost of the glass is nothing."


Section: NEWS — Page: 5