Van Aken District Public Art — Tell Us What You Think!

As part of the ongoing creation of the Van Aken District, the City will commission an original, signature public artwork celebrating the power and potential of connection in our new downtown district. The goal is a visually impactful work of art that creates a sense of vibrancy and everyday magic, guided by the ten guiding principles identified in the Van Aken District Public Art Action Strategy.

The Public Art Task Force selected two finalists to develop artwork concepts. Public feedback, along with the technical and design proposals, will inform the jury’s final selection.

Please note that these are preliminary ideas; adjustments may be made to artwork location(s), size, arrangement, etc. based on community feedback and final design/engineering. View each concept below; download the PDFs to view the complete proposals.

The feedback form is closed. Thank you. 


Option #1: Living Connections, Atomic 3

Rendering of public art proposal, Living Connections, from Atomic3


Rendering of public art proposal, Living Connections, from Atomic3

Closely linked to the birth of the city, the railroad played a key role in the development of Shaker Heights. It is the backbone of the city plan and has long been the preferred link with Cleveland. The train connects and unites citizens. It promotes encounters and exchanges, it carries stories.

Mirroring the two railroads that cross the city, the piece is made of two metal structures growing in parallel. Two sinuous lines rising from the ground, sculpting space. Two rails emerging from the earth to become two colourful figures, dancing in the middle of the Living Room park. At times embracing, at times separating, the asymmetrical dancers are transforming according to viewpoints. Images appear, a story is created.

Complementary partners, balanced in tension, the glass characters invite passers-by to join the dance. They embody encounters and openness towards others. Vibrant and colorful, they are a reflection of the community.

View full concept proposal (PDF).

Learn more about Atomic 3.


Option #2: City of Trees, Olga Ziemska

Rendering of public art proposal, City of Trees, by Olga Ziemska Studios.


Concept for public artwork, City of Trees, by Olga Ziemska Studio

This multi-piece, durable outdoor metal artwork is designed from aluminum and depicts profiles of human faces that are integrated into individual leaf-shape sculptures. Each leaf shape depicts 2 or 4 unique tracings of human face profiles from members of the Shaker Heights community. The individual face profiles and leaf shapes will be custom laser-cut from aluminum sheets along with the venation pattern lines in the leaves (the suggested, but simplified, “veining” areas of a leaf). The aluminum will be painted in a vibrant color-theme that connects to the existing brand identity of Shaker Heights and the Van Aken District, while simultaneously complimenting and contrasting the surrounding urban and natural environment.

The City of Trees public art sculptures will allow for a large degree of flexibility, particularly in the placement of individual sculptures that can mark and signify key areas of focus and interest in the Van Aken District. Each sculpture will be custom designed to fit the unique criteria of a chosen site— adjusting size, color, pattern and install method to match the needs of a selected site. There is also future possibility in adapting and extending artwork locations by adding new custom leaf sculptures to the existing public art collection.

View the full concept proposal (PDF).

Learn more about Olga Ziemska.