Art adds color to urban pedway

Downtown got some new color yesterday morning as cranes hoisted into place the glass artwork that sits atop a new pedway over Main Street.

"It's not just a pedway," said Mary Moseley, who pushed for the structure to connect the Kentucky International Convention Center with the Galt House hotel complex built by her late father.

"It's an art piece that I think Louisville will be proud of," said Moseley, the president of the company that bears her father's name, Al J. Schneider.

The pedway is expected to open soon after flooring is put in, Moseley said. It leaves the Galt House complex from one of the Waterfront Plaza towers, crosses Main, connects with a walkway system in the Cowger Garage above Kunz's Restaurant and then with the convention center.

The goal of the pedway, she said, is to help both the hotel and the convention center.

The pedway design was approved this year after a controversy that largely pitted preservationists against business interests and focused on whether the pedway belonged in the heart of a streetscape with many older buildings.

The idea for the pedway dates to the late 1970s, when then-Gov. Julian Carroll and then-Mayor Bill Stansbury discussed it, hotel officials said.

"It kind of never got off the ground," Moseley said. Until now.

Yesterday, the cranes lifted the steel structure containing the glass work into place in a truss atop the pedway.

Before that, crews from Architectural Glass Art Inc., which designed the artwork, inserted most of its 44 triangular glass panels in the steel framing, using bolts and stainless steel aircraft cable.

The truss and artwork are designed to resemble a bridge framework. The tallest of the triangular panels is 7 feet high and the smallest is about 18 inches, said the work's creator, Kenneth vonRoenn Jr.

His Architectural Glass Art firm has designed large artwork throughout the world.

The steel framework was in two pieces for installation, with cranes from Padgett Machinery Movers hoisting them into the truss.

After some nervous moments for vonRoenn when smacks of a mallet were used to get the two halves to fit into the frame, the final bolts secured the artwork to the truss.

Then the final triangular glass panels or fins at the center were put in place.

The steel frame weighs about 3,000 pounds, said Michael Harpring, president of Harpring Inc., which did the work. The glass pieces and their cables weigh about 2,000 pounds, vonRoenn said.

As to the artwork's ability to handle the weather conditions that sometimes whip down Main Street, vonRoenn said, "This will withstand a hurricane or tornado."

The pedway's cost is $1.8million, of which the Schneider family will be reimbursed $1.7million by the city. The project coincides with a $50million renovation of the Galt House complex.

Moseley and vonRoenn said they see the glass artwork as a gateway to a Main Street cultural district that includes the Kentucky Center.

The color a person sees is determined by the angle of light hitting the glass and by where the observer is standing, vonRoenn said. Lights on the pedway's roof will illuminate the artwork at night.

John Hubbuch, the president of Hubbuch & Co., which sits just east of the pedway, marveled at the artwork as it was put in place.

"I think Tiffany & Co. would be proud of it," he said. "It's a piece of jewelry, as far as I'm concerned."

600450 Art adds color to urban pedway
Date: 27 November 2003

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