EL Art Festival Includes "Sensory" Architectural Installation

Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 8:04 am
Sarah Spohn

This year’s East Lansing Art Festival, May 19-20, will include “Sensory: A Project Architecture Installation” by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Mid-Michigan that invites visitors to the center of the event – the Intersection of Charles Street & Albert Avenue.

While artwork and architecture often have “do not touch” signs, or require viewers or participants to view them from afar, “Sensory” invites visitors into the work. The installation is a first for the Festival, and will offer not only a visual display, but appeal to Festival-goers senses of touch and smell.

Combining structures and scents to transform a downtown intersection, “Sensory” creates a unique, architecture experience according to Amanda Harrell-Seyburn, Associate AIA, and associate at east arbor architecture. Harrell-Seyburn is creative director of the highly collaborative project featuring a design team comprised of AIA Mid-Michigan emerging professionals including Audrey Gilbert, Associate AIA (Mayotte Group Architects), David Lenz, AIA (Bergmann), Jonathan Faasse PA, and Kristin Faasse (Elements Studio).

“Sensory is designed to transform space and captivate imagination not only through sight and touch, ubiquitous to the human experience with architecture,” Harrell-Seyburn said, “but also scent, to elevate it to a sensory experience.”

As visitors navigate their way through varying posts and structural beams, they will experience the architecture and a gradient of fragrances. As visitors exit the installation, the scent dissipates. An integrated bench allows visitors to become one with the main structure and physically step into the architecture. Mobile cubes, extensions of the bench, invite visitors to create their own arrangements in the pop-up installation.

“The integrated bench encourages people to engage with the installation,” Harrell-Seyburn said. “It also provides a place of respite and contemplation within the festival.”

The installation is designed to be experienced in the round, with asymmetrical and unique viewpoints at every glance – no two identical views. The East-West orientation draws people inside the structure.

According to Harrell-Seyburn, “Sensory” is the first installation to be implemented by the project-based public engagement entity, Project Architecture, which began last year created by Harrell-Seyburn and the Sensory design team as the umbrella under which future engagement will happen

Through this entity, “Project Architecture” aims to create and construct creative structures which engage and demonstrate the capacity of contemporary architecture. Harrell-Seyburn says “Sensory” is just the beginning.

To fund the project, the Project Architecture team raised close to $10,000, including $5,500 in grants from Michigan Architectural Foundation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority. An additional $3,800 came from local donors including Mayotte Group Architects, Audrey Gilbert, Bergmann, east arbor architecture, Hobbs & Black, Element Studio, Christman Company, Lansing Board of Water & Light, and Pella by Horne.

The Project Architecture creative team will be on site throughout the festival to expand on the creative vision behind the architecture.

“Sensory” will be open during the East Lansing Arts Festival May 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and May 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.