Campus Art Walk: Plateau 2005


Throughout the 2008-09 academic year, the Current will be taking a look at the stories behind some of Penn’s most well-known, and most obscure, pieces of public art. The tour continues with “Plateau 2005.”

“Plateau 2005,” by sculptor/architectural designer Andrea Blum, was commissioned by Penn and the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia for the city’s Percent for Art program, which mandates that at least one percent of construction costs for municipal projects be set aside for original, site-specific works of art.

Made of perforated steel and concrete, which form interlocking pavilions, tables and seating to identify locations for private and social interaction, the project rests along the east side of 40th Street, between Walnut Street and Locust Walk.

Blum says Plateau, which occupies nearly 4,800 square feet, is conceived of as a three-dimensional puzzle designed to respond to the individual and collective needs of a diverse public. “[It] is intended to function as the interface between the University and the surrounding neighborhood by providing a social space for the community of students, workers and residents,” she says. 

Claudia Gould, director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, was instrumental in selecting Blum for the work of art. Gould told the Daily Pennsylvanian that she suggested Blum because of her “functionality.”

“She is looking at art through the eyes of architecture and making spaces that are contemplative but also thought-provoking,” she said.

Blum, currently a professor of art at Hunter College, has designed public spaces, libraries, small architectural structures, live/work spaces and bedrooms. Her work is also featured at MUDAM, Luxembourg’s Museum of Modern Art, Stroom Den Haag in The Netherlands and the French Institute of Architects.

Originally published on May 7, 2009