The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Office Building in Alexandria, VA is home to a new, compelling 10′ tall purple-red ovular gridded sculpture. Designed by Freeland Buck—an architecture practice with offices in NY and LA, the artwork shows three overlapping aluminum cones that intersect; a three-dimensional image printed on the installation creates an illusion, transporting the viewer to the platform of a train station when looking upwards.

Project Name: Tunnel Vision

Studio Name: Freeland Buck

Tunnel Vision by Freeland Buck-Sheet2
©Freeland Buck

As both object and immersive environment, ‘Tunnel vision’ nods to the identity, experience and architecture of Harry Weese’s coffered subway underground station. Built with LED lighting and printed aluminum wrapped around a steel frame, the laser-cut gridded pattern of the layered conical forms allows light to spill out into the lobby and onto the ceiling.

Tunnel Vision by Freeland Buck-Sheet4
©Freeland Buck

Suspended in the southwest corner of the building’s lobby, the installation can be viewed from the street, entry vestibule, plaza, lobby and the floor below.

From the side, its convex shape loosely evokes the coffered stations and metro’s gridded logo; from below, its concave volume makes the station clearly visible and emphasizes a dramatic one-point perspective of the projected photograph. The puzzle-like aesthetic of the piece oscillates between realism and familiarity as it simulates the arrival of a train, inviting passersby to come have a closer look.

Tunnel Vision by Freeland Buck-Sheet7
©Freeland Buck

Tunnel Vision is a part of WMATA’s program to enliven the experiences of buildings and train stations through public art. This installation in particular was modeled after the Gallery Place-Chinatown station in DC.

Tunnel Vision by Freeland Buck-Sheet10
©Freeland Buck

The work is part of an ongoing series within FreelandBuck’s explorations that experiments with spatial drawing and the Baroque tradition of trompe l‘oeil illusion. Traditionally applied to church ceilings and civic buildings, trompe l’oeil creates an illusion of depth to make the impossible possible; a dome appears that was never built or the heavens filled with angels. The result is a visual narrative that makes history present and brings communities together.


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