Arup Serves as Lead Engineering Designer for Echelman Sculpture Installed Above Rose Kennedy Greenway

Multi-disciplinary engineering firm provides structural engineering, lighting design and custom software design and application

BOSTON, MA, May 5, 2015 – Arup, a multidisciplinary engineering and consulting firm with a reputation for delivering innovative and sustainable designs, announced today it served as the lead engineering designer for a half acre fiber net sculpture designed by artist Janet Echelman of Studio Echelman. The sculpture was installed 365 feet above Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway and spans up to 600 feet between three high-rise buildings. This is Arup’s fifth collaboration with Studio Echelman in North America, and the artist’s tallest and highest sculpture to date. Commissioned by the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, Echelman’s sculpture for Boston is an original design inspired by the transformation of the City’s waterfront following the Big Dig and the creation of the mile-and-a-half long Greenway. It was unveiled on Sunday, May 3rd and will remain in place through October.

A true team effort, Arup worked closely with Studio Echelman, Autodesk and Shawmut Design & Construction to realize the artist’s vision of reconnecting the city over the Greenway. Arup’s primary role was to create the geometric and structural design for the pre-stressed rope network that supports and forms an integral part of the sculpture. The firm has developed custom in-house software which implements an “adaptive form-finding” algorithm to optimize the geometry and structure of the sculpture.  The form-finding is part of an overall digital work-flow from concept through fabrication.

“We have worked with many artists over the years, including Janet. Every project is unique and has its own evolutionary process,” said Patrick McCafferty, PE, LEED AP, associate principal in Arup’s Boston office. “For this piece, the engineering and physical constraints of the site directly influenced the sculpture’s overall form. Our first task was to identify buildings with sufficient reserve capacity to resist the many tens of thousands of pounds of force the sculpture will exert in this particularly windy urban corridor of Boston. The building capacities and their geometric constraints directly influenced the form, density, and overall composition of the piece. As such, the sculpture can be viewed as the physical manifestation of the potential energy embodied within the Greenway itself. The result is stunning.”

Arup’s lighting design solution enabled the artist’s vision of the sculpture to be realized in the nighttime environment through careful coordination of lighting equipment that blends seamlessly within the urban fabric. Bringing the piece to life at night through the use of light was always a priority for this project, and creating unique experience on the Greenway has been the result. “Designing the lighting to not only illuminate such a large piece, but also work with the existing Boston infrastructure was a huge challenge,” said Jake Wayne, PE, LEED AP, senior lighting designer for Arup. “The result, however, is a brilliant realization of Janet’s vision for her art in the nighttime urban environment.”

The sculpture includes more than 100 miles of polyester twine and over half a million knots. The pre-stressed rope network is constructed of hand-spliced ropes braided from Honeywell Spectra® fibers and are, pound-for-pound, 8 times stronger than steel cable.  It will be illuminated by 44 individually programmed LED lights. The longest span measures 600 feet and the project plan area of the sculpture is almost half an acre.

Other Studio Echelman sculptures engineered by Arup include “Impatient Optimist” at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Headquarters in Seattle; a temporary exhibition at the GLOW Festival in Santa Monica entitled “The Space Between Us”; “Sky’s Painted with Unnumbered Sparks” which was unveiled at TED2014 in Vancouver, BC; and “Pulse” in Philadelphia, Penn. which is expected to debut in 2015.

About Arup
Arup is the creative force at the heart of many of the world’s most prominent projects in the built environment and across industry. Its engineers and consultants deliver innovative projects across the world. Arup opened its first US office 25 years ago, and now employs 1,000 in the Americas. The firm was founded in 1946 with an enduring set of values that fosters a distinctive culture, intellectual independence and collaborative approach. The people at Arup are driven to find a better way to deliver better solutions for their clients. (


image Credit: Benjamin Johnson/Shawmut Design and Construction

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