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Media Relations Contact:
Morgan Lyons

December 15, 2000

Cityplace Station art reflects geologic & cultural history of urban crossroads

The location of DART's new Cityplace Station, 120 feet beneath North Central Expressway, gives rise to the art and design themes expressed at the station. DART's 21st light rail station opens for service on December 18.

Beginning with the large tile etching of the original Southland Ice House on the lobby floor of the east entrance, visitors are reminded of the evolution of a small ice business into a global corporation of more than 2,000 7-Eleven convenience stores.

Visitors descend 10 stories below ground level via a 213-step staircase, three pairs of escalators, or by riding an incline-elevator, a glass-in elevator that moves on the same incline as the escalators.

On the way down, visitors move past tile work rendered in soothing pastels representing the geologic strata uncovered during construction. The station cavern and the twin rail tunnels on either side of the Cityplace Station boarding platform were drilled through the 80,000,000-year-old Austin Chalk formed during the late Cretaceous period when the North Texas prairie was covered by a shallow inland sea. Fossils typically found in this limestone formation include snail-like ammonites and mollusks, as well as the bony fish pachyrhizodus. Such fossils are represented in tiles seen on the walls beside all escalators.

On the mezzanine level, ceramic tiles arranged in a circular pattern in the flooring display the artwork of third-graders at nearby James B. Fannin Elementary School, located on Ross Avenue and Fitzhugh. The theme of evolution is carried out in the drawings, as the young artists working seven years ago during the station's design phase, represented what they wish to be when they grow up.

Descending to the platform is also like traveling further into the past, as visitors see five fiery orange and deep brown porcelain-enameled pictographs depicting the Native Americans who once inhabited the region. Representations of Native American pottery, artifacts and other findings are embedded in the platform floor.

Finally, the porcelain tile art along the track walls pays respect to the evolution of both the rail transportation and the cultures that have enriched the area. Deep brown and ivory-toned tiles on one wall represent the electrical railway that once traveled from Dallas to Waxahachie, Waco and other cities.

The wall on the opposite side of the platform features deep green and ivory-toned panels highlighting age-old fossils, ancient cultures and the more recent communities who have lived at this historical urban crossroads. This collage includes representations of cowry shells, amulets and even the heel of an old shoe - all artifacts found in the abandoned Freedmen's Cemetery when it was moved during the widening of North Central Expressway near Lemmon Avenue.

Lead artist Bob Barsamian worked with neighbors, local historians, archeologists and school children in creating the evolution-themed design of Cityplace Station. Of the overall station design he says, "We wanted to bring color and light to this underground interior, and I think it's all come together very nicely."

Art & Design program uses community input
As in all DART stations, an art advisory committee representing the neighborhood helped research the history of the area and select design elements reflecting the spirit of the community.

DART's award-winning Art & Design program, initiated in 1990, allows $50,000 public art budget per station. An advisory committee representing regional arts interest oversees policies and site-specific committees for each station.

The idea is to create a unique visual identity for each station in the transit system - and one that reflects the history and spirit of the surrounding community. Some local committees use the entire funds to commission a separate work of art. Others use the budget entirely to fund upgrades to the station like special column coverings or art tiles, as in the case of Cityplace Station. Many neighborhood committees elect to split the funds to commission a work of art, as well as to fund special materials for the station.

The goal of the program is to give local people ownership of the station by involving them in this way. This ownership of a handsome neighborhood station not only helps to prevent graffiti and littering, but also encourages transit-oriented development within the surrounding community.

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