BUFFALO, N.Y. -- What do a strand of DNA, snow drifts and a
terrain of clouds, mountains and ponds have in common?
They all provided inspiration for designs submitted by three
internationally renowned artists, finalists in a University at
Buffalo-sponsored public art competition, for a solar installation
to be constructed on UB's North Campus in partnership with the New
York Power Authority (NYPA).
The project will be the largest solar array on a college or
university campus in New York State and one of the largest on a
college or university campus in the United States. Construction is
expected to begin in August.
The university sees the project as more than an energy-producing
facility -- it envisions it as a significant land art
UB President John B. Simpson and NYPA will introduce the winning
designer on April 22 -- Earth Day -- in the Albright-Knox Art
Gallery in conjunction with the opening of an exhibit featuring the
designs submitted by Vito Acconci, Diana Balmori and Walter
The exhibit, "UB Solar: The Art of Power," will be open to the
public from noon to 10 p.m. April 23 and noon to 5 p.m. April 24
and 25. It will held in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's Clifton
The three designers were recommended by a selection panel that
was co-chaired by Louis Grachos, director of the Albright-Knox Art
Gallery, and Ted Pietrzak, director of the Burchfield Penney Art
Center. Other members of the panel were Robert Shibley, UB
professor of architecture and planning, and senior adviser to the
president for campus planning and design; Millie Chen, associate
professor and chair in the UB Department of Visual Studies; Charles
Hermann, research and technology development engineer with NYPA;
and Robert Faber, director of special projects with DeCloet
Greenhouse Manufacturing Ltd., the project engineer and
Funded with a grant from NYPA, the project will enable UB to
generate 1.1 megawatts of clean energy onsite each year, providing
power for 735 student apartments and reducing the University's
carbon emissions by more than 500 metric tons per year.
The solar installation demonstrates UB's strong commitment to
climate neutrality. An early signatory of the American College and
University Presidents Climate Commitment, UB adopted a Climate
Action Plan in 2009 which calls for significant increases in the
university's on-site solar power generating capacity.
"The university also hopes that by providing a model for
enhancing the aesthetics of the installations, the project will
promote the acceptance and use of renewable energy sources well
beyond the boundaries of the campus," says UB's Shibley.
The university conducted an invitational design competition to
ensure that the solar installation, which will line UB's Flint Road
entrance, will create a visually attractive gateway that integrates
beauty with engineering innovation, and environmental
sustainability. Three finalists were chosen from among the group of
internationally renowned designers who entered the competition. The
finalists participated in an on-campus interview/workshop, then
were invited to submit conceptual designs that address all aspects
of the solar installation, including its industrial design, its
landscape, the accessibility and safety of the site to the public,
and its future potential as an educational and research
The internationally renowned artists whose conceptual designs
for the solar array will be exhibited are:
Vito Acconci of New York City -- artist, installation artist,
designer and founding principal of Acconci Studio. Acconci is a
distinguished lecturer in the Art Department at Brooklyn College.
His works have been exhibited throughout the world and are found in
several major public collections, including those of the Guggenheim
Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Diana Balmori of New York City -- landscape and urban
designer, and founding principal of Balmori Associates. Balmori
teaches at the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental
Studies. She serves on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in
Washington, D.C., and recently was appointed a senior fellow in
garden and landscape studies at Dumbarton Oaks Research
Walter Hood of Oakland, Calif. -- landscape architect,
founding principal of Hood Design and professor and former chair of
the Landscape Architecture Department at the University of
California-Berkeley. Hood was the recipient of the prestigious
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Landscape Design in
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, a flagship institution in the State University
of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus.
UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests
through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional
degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a
member of the Association of American Universities.