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About
BLE Walls, Bridges, and Piers

​Over 22,000 running feet of highly visible walls along the alignment are being treated with designs by artist, Carolyn Braaksma.  Construction of the Blue Line Extension (BLE) has begun and the art walls are the first of the BLE art projects to be built. 

 

In the spring of 2013, Braaksma was a CATS Artist in Residence at the McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte.  Over a three-month period, she carved  her  full  sized “calico” prototype and mapped out 300,000 square feet of wall designs.  She spent time working with the BLE project team and interacting with the greater Charlotte community during studio visits and receptions.

 
Design 
 
Braaksma represents indigenous North Carolina plants and flowers such as trap plants, pitcher plants, Venus flytraps, and sundews throughout her alignment art.
 
 
 

Her Pitcher Plant bridge pier design (above) implies that something organic is supporting a massive, light rail bridge. 

 

The modular designs for the adjacent MSE wall (right) uses flower and plant patterns, easily rotated, reversed, or rearranged to maximize imagery over the expansive and tall wall.​

 

 
Carving
 
​For each of her 17 different designs, the artist carves a full scale prototype to be cast into a “master” by her fabricator and delivered to CATS for use by contractors building cast in place, pile panel and MSE walls.  Her reliefs range in depth from 1 ¼” to 3” when completed. 

 
 Detail Sheet D_Trap Plants Small MSE_small.jpg
 

 

Braaksma designed a leaf railing for the four BLE overpass bridges which range from 150' to 550' long.

 

Construction 
 
DSC01760.JPG 
A completed pile panel retaining wall along N. Tryon Street with the artist’s Calico pattern. The art panels are pre-cast off site using the art form liner, delivered and assembled on site.  Braaksma selected the color for the piles that hold the panels in place.

A completed cast-in-place wall with the Calico pattern.  The art mold is braced by scaffolding and concrete is poured inside the space to form the art wall.

 

  A detail of the artist's Calico pattern.​
 
A sample pile panel of Braaksma's orchid designs that are currently in fabrication.  
 

Artist Bio

Carolyn Braaksma is a nationally recognized artist with numerous commissions in the public art realm. Inspired by organic elements like vegetation and animals, Carolyn incorporates familiar images into her projects in slightly abstracted ways. CATS sponsored Braaksma’s residency at McColl Center for Visual Art, at which time she completed designed patterns for these walls, piers and bridges. Braaksma is especially well known for her public art in the cities of Denver, San Diego, Scottsdale and Charlotte, to name a few. Braaksma earned her BA Magna Cum Laude from Metropolitan State College in Denver and did her graduate studies at the University of Minnesota.